Saturday night I took my twins to see The King’s Speech. The only thing remarkable about the event is that my children are nine and the film is rated R, although only for the curse words. Call me a bad mother, but my children have heard four-letter words—sometimes in the home, and sometimes not. In third grade, they are sponges for slang of any kind, even though most of the time they have no real sense of the words. They whisper and titter because they know the words are naughty, and this, of course, gives them a thrill.
I did not take my children to see The King’s Speech to heighten their knowledge of cuss words. I took them because I thought the film offered extraordinary lessons about courage and perseverance. I wanted them to see how even among the uber-privileged—in this case, King George VI—personal challenges exist. That even a Duke en route to becoming a King can stutter badly enough to require daily speech therapy, if he wants to successfully influence public opinion.
We don’t know any Kings or Queens. But we know lots of people—kids and adults—who have to work to overcome challenges of their own. We know a girl who climbs trees like a squirrel but has trouble reading; we know a boy who’s a star baseball player but still wets his bed at night; and we have a new Governor, effective tomorrow, who, in a New York Times Magazine article, attributed his scattered energies to ADD. It doesn’t matter how much money or political clout you have, whether you have the Iphone 4, drive a Porsche, or summer in the Hamptons. It doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, or like most of us, somewhere in-between. Most everyone, has “something,” one or more areas that need extra attention.
And so, for my children, who still have speech and occupational therapy as a result of their premature births (they were born at 30 weeks), it’s important that they see how others live, learn and work to rise above their shortcomings. My son, god bless him, is uncoordinated on the playing field. My daughter, too, can’t run as fast as her peers, and has to speak slowly and clearly to be understood, especially if she wants to pursue theatre as she says she does. They’ll get there. But they’ll have to work at these things that set them apart. They don’t yet understand that the daily practice will pay off.
We go where we need to go.