Have you seen the movie Lars and the Real Girl? If not, go rent it right now, and not just because you shouldn’t put off for even a moment more the chance to see the smokin’ Patricia Clarkson in all her awesomeness.
In L&TRG, Clarkson manages to eat up the screen in every scene she’s in, even in her understated supporting role as Dr. Dagmar, a widowed family physician/therapist in a wacky little town in northern Minnesota. Her patient, Lars, played by Ryan Gosling, orders Bianca, an anatomically correct, life-size doll over the Internet, and then the entire town helps him to perpetuate his delusion that she’s a real, live (if sickly) girl — the wholesome girl he’s going to marry, once she’s well enough. In the meantime, Bianca gets a job, joins a church group or two, and accompanies Lars to his office Christmas party.
Clarkson’s character is charged with “fixing” Lars, by way of covert weekly psychotherapy sessions while Bianca receives “treatment” for her unspecified illness. But what I love most about the movie is the fact that, while she takes Lars seriously, Dagmar doesn’t seem too worried about the whole imaginary friend thing. In her consult with Lars’s frantic brother and sister-in-law, she’s cool and unruffled. “Well,” she says, “Bianca’s here for a reason.”
And that, my friends, sums up the attitude I aspire to as a parent (and as a person in general). Yes, I know she’s a fictional character and all, but Dr. D. just exudes the kind of competence, compassion, acceptance and unflappableness that I would like to exude around my children. (And if I happened to resemble Clarkson physically at all, well that would be a bonus, now, wouldn’t it? I’m just saying.) Even at 5:30 in the morning. Even as the boys shriek “No!” back and forth at each other. Even as Rowan melts down over who gets to lift Isaac out of his crib or walk down the stairs first. Even as I try to make dinner, one-handed, with a clingy McClingypants toddler who wails if I try to put him down. Even in the face of a four-year-old who has appointed himself household dictator.
They do strange things, these children, but they do them for a reason — even if those reasons seem a little, well, unreasonable. And who am I to assume those reasons, however frustrating, aren’t valid?
Well, of course, I’m their mother — one of them, at least — which means that it’s also my job to gently steer these children towards increasing levels of so-called reasonable behaviour. Here’s hoping that my methods and my standards are adequate to the job. In the midst of chaos, I am trying to channel my internal Patricia Clarkson, muttering to myself, “She’s here for a reason. Bianca’s here for a reason.”