I went with my husband and kids to see Boss Baby yesterday. My girls were very excited to see the movie, oohing and aahing about how adorable the baby was. There were many funny moments, and it was ultimately very sweet, but I wish I had known a little more about the movie before I watched it.
SPOILER ALERT: Do not read anymore if you haven’t seen the film and do not want to know anything about the plot.
Tim is a blissfully happy little boy, living a much beloved childhood with his parents, when suddenly the new Boss Baby arrives. (The baby, played by Alec Baldwin, is a cognitively-mature adult disguised in a baby’s body).
Boss Baby works for a company up in the sky called Baby Corp, which produces all the babies in the world. Most babies that are produced are sent down to live with families; some babies are moved into management positions at Baby Corp. The babies that stay to work at Baby Corp drink a special infant formula that prevents them from physically aging, whereas the babies who go down to live with families grow up and lead normal lives.
Baby Corp is in trouble because puppies are starting to overtake babies as the most wanted new member of families. Tim’s parents work for the company that produces puppies, and the Boss Baby is sent down live with Tim’s family while he sleuths around to find out more about the company’s secret plans to roll out a new puppy.
Concerns for Kids With Insecure Attachments:
The Boss Baby plays on every single fear of a child who is feeling insecure. Tim’s parents, who are not at all emotionally intelligent, shift all their love and attention to the cute new baby. They no longer read bedtime stories with Tim; they no longer sing his special bedtime song; they even cover up pictures of him with pictures of the new baby.
When Tim discovers that the Boss Baby is really an adult in disguise, the baby convinces Tim to help him in his mission to uncover the new puppy plans, or else the Boss Baby will never leave Tim’s family again. He tells Tim that there is only a finite amount of parental love in the world, and Tim will NEVER have all of his parents’ love again if the Baby stays. Tim will always come in second.
This is the fear of every child who ever gets a new sibling, and there is never a point in the movie when the parents have a big talk with Tim about how much he is still loved. There is one scene where they offer to spend some “Tim time” with Tim, but it is a token moment and doesn’t include the type of reassurance a traumatized kid really needs.
Concerns for Parents Who Have Lost A Baby:
After the Boss Baby completes his mission and thwarts the rollout of the new puppy, he makes plans to leave Tim’s family and resume his career at Baby Corp up in the sky. By this point, Tim has formed an emotional attachment to the baby. When Tim expresses concern for how his parents will feel after the baby they adore suddenly disappears, the Boss Baby replies, “There are procedures for that.”
The next scene hit me like an unexpected gut punch. The baby is gone, and a team of Baby Corp babies basically scrubs Tim’s house of any memory of the baby. They wipe the parents’ memories of the baby; they pack up the baby things; they remove the clothes and toys and photos. The baby is erased. Only Tim remembers the baby, because he specifically asks not to have his memory erased.
As a mom who has gone through the utter agony of packing up items after the loss of a baby, this scene cut through me like a knife. The parents never grieve the baby, because his existence is erased. Tim feels isolated and alone, unable to talk about his sadness and longing for the baby.
I identified so strongly with Tim in these scenes. After losing a baby, you feel like you can’t talk about it. You are isolated in your grief. There is a hole that can’t be filled, and nobody wants to talk about it. You go through the motions of living. Sometimes you wonder during the dark moments, would it be better to have your mind erased, so that you don’t endure the pain of the loss? No, is my answer, especially after seeing the Boss Baby. Because not remembering is worse.
Concerns for Foster Kids:
After the Boss Baby moves out, as mentioned above, there is no trace of him left in the household. For foster kids and adopted kids, this can be a terribly painful turn of events. They live with the fear of never having a family to love. They live with the fear that no one remembers them or thinks about them when they are gone. The movie reinforces this fear. For any foster child who has had to leave a family they care about, this movie could be very triggering. The Boss Baby never had a family to love before he met Tim, but he doesn’t realize how sad that is until after he has experienced it. For foster kids who are still waiting to find their forever family, this could be very hard to watch.
The Happy Ending:
This would be a pretty dark tale if it ended when the Boss baby leaves. Fortunately, Tim and the baby are both missing each other as they go back to their own lives. In the most emotionally intelligent scene in the movie, Tim writes a letter to the Boss Baby, where he offers to give up his entire share of his parents’ love to the baby, if only the baby will come back and be his brother forever.
The Boss Baby has also realized that his life is empty without the love of a family, and he decides to give up immortality in order to rejoin Tim’s family as a normal baby. The ending is very heartwarming, very lovely, but I still left the theater feeling jarred by some of the scenes. I do think that you need to do some talking about it and processing after you have seen it. If you are raising foster kids or if you have a young child who has just become an older sibling, be sure to counteract the messaging of the film with plenty of reassurance. If you have lost a baby, be prepared for the baby-erasing scene.
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