When I Looked at You, I Saw Him.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movie, The Judge (in theaters now!) – and you want to – skip this blog post. I can’t tell my relevant parenting story without spoiling the movie – so don’t read on! unless you are okay with knowing all about the movie.
(I can’t believe I just asked my six loyal readers not to read the blog today.)
I went to see The Judge on Friday, all by myself. I took the day off, or so I thought, from the stresses of parenting. I got my bucket of popcorn at noon and plopped myself down in the dark front row.
The movie was about an old man and his grown son, who had unresolved relationship issues. The son had been headstrong and run a bit wild in his youth. The dad was a small town judge who took his job very seriously. Judge/dad raised his son with severe punishments for youthful indiscretions, and the son fiercely resented those punishments.
Near the end of the movie, there was a telling statement by the father/judge. The judge was discussing a horrific criminal he’d seen in his courtroom, a murderer with no conscience. And the judge said to his son, “When I looked at you, I saw him.”
When he looked at his teenaged son, he saw the murderer.
Upon hearing these words in the theater, I burst into tears.
Suddenly I realized that that’s what I was doing to Dylan. I have been looking at Dylan, with his “wild” ways – his bouncing around the classroom and forgetting his lunchbox and dragging his brother around on the trampoline – and I’ve been seeing someone else entirely.
Someone not entirely real, I thought.
I looked at my baby boy, doing those things, and saw a horrific criminal. A horrific criminal. A murderer with no conscience.
In my fear that someday Dylan would become such a monster, I had been treating Dylan like that monster.
I cried through the rest of the movie. It’s a good movie, not a great one, but that one line spoke so loudly to me that I was barely able to watch the rest of it. I could hardly function on the way home.
“When I looked at you, I saw him.”
And after the movie was over, it was nearly an hour before I made an even more startling realization.
The monster I thought Dylan would become … that monster was not a random, fictional character in a movie. That monster was not a murderer without a conscience.
The monster I really believed Dylan would become … was me.