Monday, May 30, 2011

I AM Kungfu Panda, No I AM Kungfu Panda

One of our boy's favorite movies is Kungfu Panda. Until recently I had never actually seen the movie, but I had "heard" it dozens of times probably. It's one of the kids mainstay travel movies to play in the minivan. Because the wireless headphones are so stinking expensive we've never forked out the $$$ for more than the standard 2 that came with the van. The incessant bickering over tangling over the other "wired" headsets coupled with keeping up with the splitter for 2 or 3 more headsets has just about insured Melissa and I are destined to listen to every movie the kids watch on any road trip any more. We finally just figured it was easier to turn the sound to the back speakers and either talk to each other or sleep. All that being said, for years I had listened to Kungfu Panda many times over. It quickly became one of F's favorite movies once he figured out the entire movie took place in "his" China. As the sequel approached I figured it would be worth my while to actually watch the original. In true "guy" format, E and F just about recited the entire stinking movie line by line! I could hardly watch the movie with the boys sitting on either side of me giving me the play by play like it was the final game of the world series.

So it's no surprise we went to see Kungfu Panda 2 over the long weekend. E woke up Thursday morning letting me know it was opening day and we could go after I got home from work. It was like the always anticipated opening day of Major League baseball to usher in Spring! It was a great movie to say the least, probably as good or better than the first. It was always odd to me in the first movie that there was absolutely no explanation of a panda having a duck as a dad. This awkward and perplexing relationship turned out to be at the crux of the sequel. Po explores his adoption and seeks knowledge regarding his birth parents and his childhood. So the boys are now exclaiming, "hey, I'm just like Po, he's adopted like me!"

At one point in the movie Po tells one of the other characters, almost ashamedly that he has discovered his dad (the duck) isn't his real dad. The other character says, oh you mean the "duck" isn't your "real" dad, as if if to say duh, no secret there. While adoption seems to be more prevalent, we still get amused when people ask us this question, does E and F know they are adopted? I always want to say, you mean does the Guatemalan and Chinaman know that their caucasian blue eyed mom, dad, and three other brothers and sisters are vastly different from them, with a slight smirk? This has never been any secret and is a topic that comes up often regarding where everyone was born where they are from, how God brought us together as a family, etc... F who is 4 will sometimes simply say, I had a China mommy and daddy and now I have a new mommy and daddy with the biggest grin on his face, as if it to say, how cool that I have had more than 1 mommy and daddy, how many have you had? I win! (everything is a competition to him)

Anyway, Po discovers the story of his mommy and daddy and how he came to be orphaned. It was a great story and I believe one that will be like many adopted children's stories, minus the maniacal peacock who uses wolves as henchmen in attempts to kill all of the pandas. While E and F bring this up from time to time, it's like a different conversation each time as their maturity and comprehension gets greater with age. The story told in KP2 is one we can use to explain to our boys how they came to be a part of our family and it appears the writers received good input in addressing this topic.

In the end, the duck dad welcomes Po back from saving China with trepidation. Po says he figured something out in the midst of his adventure and with much worry in his eyes, the duck dad hears the following: "I figured out that YOU are my dad!" As an adoptive dad, I'd have to say that was a touching ending to a great kids movie.

While leaving the movie, E and F began arguing about who was like Po more. F finally trumped E by pointing out that while they are both adopted like Po, that he in fact is from China, just like Po. I think I heard E exclaim, ah man, I wish I was from China too. And then E's creative juices kicked in and said to F, hey there was a KP1 and a KP2, so we can both be like Po, I'll be like Po in KP1 and you can be like Po in KFP2! As long as they both continue to openly discuss their situation and that I am indeed their dad, they can both be like Po for as long as they so choose. Thanks Disney for a great family movie and one that includes such a positive adoption story.

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