On Lady Bird

I’m officially old. I know because I spent most of Lady Bird identifying with the mom instead of the teenager, even when she wasn’t such a great mom.

Lady Bird Poster

Image from IMDb

As I watched this ordinary and yet authentic and compelling year-in-the-life story of a high school senior, I wondered about how some 17-year-olds manage to develop such confidence. Where do they get it?

I work with this age group. This August at a freshman college orientation I witnessed a young man walk up to a microphone and blithely express wildly unpopular opinions as discomfort rippled through the crowd. In spite of a jam-packed gymnasium all but booing at him, he continued speaking until the events coordinator confiscated the mike. Lady Bird forcefully reminded me of this incident during an awkward but sort of hilarious scene at a Catholic school assembly.

Saoirse Ronan’s character feels like a force of nature, even when she displays touching vulnerability. She feels driven to pursue a brighter future no matter what (sometimes in Machiavellian ways), and it is all without ever once hearing her mom tell Lady Bird that she’s proud of her daughter.

I have no idea what that is like.

Even though I’ve experienced plenty of parental conflicts, at least my mom takes every opportunity to tell me she’s proud of me. And even my father (who was such a not-great parent that we barely speak to each other now) has expressed pride in me.

This may sound like bragging, but it’s not. Because I do wonder sometimes if this has less to do with my accomplishments and more to do with the preternatural obedience I’ve demonstrated since birth. I imagine it’s easier to be proud of a natural-born rule follower.

I was far more tractable and studious at Lady Bird’s age, but that has never made me feel confident. Not even now.

I wish I identified with Lady Bird. But at least I got to live her life for 93 minutes.

And now for something completely different…  Thor3! Stay tuned.

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