Understanding a kid like Jake


What do you get when you put the stars of Homeland, The Big Bang Theory, and Insurgent in the same movie? Two parents and a preschool director.

Claire Danes and Jim Parsons play Alex and Greg Wheeler, parents of four-year-old Jake, who doesn’t really understand what’s wrong with playing dress-up and wanting to be a Disney princess for Halloween.

I can’t say I blame the kid though. I mean, who doesn’t want to play pretend? Heck, I’m 24 and I play pretend all the time when I’m writing. The conflict in the movie presents itself when family friend and preschool director – which now that I think about it seems like it would be a conflict of interest – Judy (Octavia Spencer) suggests that Jake’s parents use his nonconformity to try and get Jake into a good elementary school.

They walk a fine line between wanting Jake to be himself and wanting him to fit in with his classmates. I know that line all too well. Seriously, it might as well have been my shadow growing up.

I was listening to “The Other F Word” podcast recently, and I had an epiphany of sorts. On the podcast, the hosts and their guests talk about failure (or situations that can be perceived as failures) and how they dealt with them. This particular episode was about parenting.

Before I listened to it, I was skeptical. I am nowhere near ready to be a parent, although I have considered the idea. But they actually ended up discussing ADHD for the most part, which is one of the conditions I have. They talked about how ADHD manifests itself differently in different people, so it might seem like someone is lazy or just not trying when in reality they’re not stimulated enough.

I really identify with this. In elementary school, my teachers watched me like a hawk. This eventually turned me into an anxious people pleaser. The last thing I wanted was anybody to be mad at me.

In high school, I remember times when all I wanted to do was write, but homework consumed all my time outside of school. My creativity was suppressed as a result. And believe me, it sucked.

Even today, I still feel really suppressed sometimes. I’m working on embracing my own nonconformity, but it’s hard when the people around me don’t appreciate it and think I’m weird.


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