Sunday, June 17, 2018

We Are All Elastigirl

At my house, we are The Incredibles. The first time he saw the movie, my oldest son identified immediately with Dash, the blond little boy whose super power is to run super fast. Naturally that led to him insisting that everyone call him by that name, then that everyone call his little brother Baby Jack Jack. For the past year, he has also called my husband Mr. Incredible and me Elastigirl. (Seriously. When he started preschool last fall, we had to have several talks about how he could still be Dash at home but had to use his real name at school.) My younger son, who is 2, also calls himself Jack Jack (though thankfully he also knows and can say his real name), and now has a pretty clear pronunciation of my husband's and my Incredibles names. I'm not sure we'll ever go back to our non-super identities.

As you might know, this weekend is the premier of The Incredibles 2. The other day my nanny took the boys to McDonald's, where they each got a Happy Meal containing an Elastigirl toy. The moment I got home from work, they were clamoring to show me the toy - Elastigirl riding a motorcycle - and the way that it expanded to simulate the way she stretches to incredible lengths when fighting the bad guys.

It got me thinking about how, even beyond the fact that hers is the name I have answered to for a year or more, I actually identify with the character. 

I get that she had a super-impressive career fighting crime, but that she shifted her focus to her family in ways she never expected. (At the beginning of the first movie, she says in an interview, when asked about settling down, "I'm at the top of my game! I'm right up there with the big dogs! Girls, come on. Leave the saving of the world to the men? I don't think so.") That she still has the skills to take on villains, but somehow is able to attend to her children's needs at the same time, all while gracefully adapting to every unexpected turn of events, like flying off to rescue her husband and learning that two of her children have stowed away on the plane. I feel that long look in the mirror when she checks out her backside in her new super suit. I was skinny once, too....

Image result for elastigirl  looking in mirror

Elastigirl quite literally stretches everything - her arms and legs to reach things when sneaking into a compound or doing battle, her expectations when she believes her husband is having an affair but also knows he is in danger so goes after him, and her plans when they go astray as they so often do. It's no accident that, as they return home from taking down the robot monster, while Mr. Incredible and Violet (the oldest child) and Dash recount the amazing moments from their fight, Elastigirl is the one on the phone checking in with the sitter to make sure Baby Jack Jack is okay.

And when he is not, when it becomes clear that the villain Syndrome has kidnapped him and is about to get away in his jet, it is Elastigirl who creates a strategy and quite literally goes after him. "Bob," she says to Mr. Incredible, "throw me!" After grabbing her son, she stretches her body into a parachute and cradles him as she delivers him gently back to the ground.

Image result for elastigirl parachute jack jack

I don't actually have any super powers - I imagine that life would be so much easier if I did - but I'm quite proud to be compared to Elastigirl. She represents what we working moms do: stretch ourselves in every way possible and do multiple things at once  in an attempt to care for everyone who is important to us, no matter the situation. You are all Elastigirl, too. And I'm proud to stand (and stretch!) among you.

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