ChicagoNow hosts blogapalooza once a month during which all CN bloggers are given the same topic and exactly one hour to produce a blog post about it. Tonight’s topic : Write about a character or scene in a movie or book that affected you in some way.
I was an English major in college, and a very happy one at that, because characters and scenes in books affect me, often in profound ways. They always have. Before I met Jane Eyre, Hester Prynne or Anna Karenina, I made friends with a fiesty little girl from Portland, Oregon created by Beverly Clearly: Ramona Quimby.
Ramona has impacted me at different ages and stages of my life, from third grade to three days ago.
As a child, Ramona had a lot of things I wanted: an older sister, drawing ability, a pet (even if it was Picky Picky the cat who wasn’t overly affectionate). She also had things I had, including loving parents who smoked and some less than perfect, or rather, too perfect, classmates. Ramona also had problems, misunderstandings and embarrassing moments at school. I had those, too. We both tried to do what was right with sometimes the opposite results.
I loved her earnestness and her enthusiasm, even when it meant cracking a raw egg on her egg. (Thank God my mother never packed hard boiled eggs for lunch.)
I remember my mom
making helping me with my diorama of Ramona Quimby, Age 8 in third grade, including carpeting their living room I created inside a shoe box. I remember thinking that it really was possible that we could have the same carpet. I think reading about Ramona was the first time I could really relate to a character in a book, right down to the details of her house on Klickitat Street.
I was captivated by the idea that someone ordinary could be extraordinary.
Fastforward 30 years.
I have a daughter. She likes Ramona, too. So much so that she had a Ramona Quimby birthday party when she turned 8. My daughter is 11 now, and she’s outgrown the Ramona books. Ramona’s World is the last book in the series, and I believe she’s 10 at the end. Perhaps my interest in tweens starting with Ramona way back in the day.
And though my tween is on to different books, the movie Ramona and Beezus lives on our DVR.
It was on when I walked through the room a few days ago and I stopped to watch a bit of it with my tween. Once again, Ramona had an impact on me.
Her earnestness was on full display. I realized that I sometimes fail to see the earnestness in my own tween. I am guilty of focusing on the end result and not the effort or the intent behind it.Ramona and Beezus is a lighthearted movie, but I think it did justice to Beverly Clearly’s illustration that childhood is not easy.
It reminded me that being a tween is tricky. Ramona wasn’t the baby of the family, nor was she like her newly teen, boy-crazy sister. She wanted so badly to be independent and worked to be so, but it was full of challenges.
There are times when I’m caught up in my grown-up problems, and I think that my daughter’s life is so easy compared to this mortgage-paying, insurance-navigating, job-securing adult existence. To my child, and to Ramona, however, those problems are very real, and very large. That’s so important to remember, and so easy to forget.
Ramona on the screen also illustrated the power of undivided attention from a parent. Ramona’s dad is the man, especially when he sits down and draws with her. I know I shouldn’t need that reminder of the importance of uninterupted one-on-one time, but I did.
I’m grateful for Ramona, for the companionship she provided to me as a peer from the page and for the important reminders she delivered from the screen.
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