One of my favourite movies is “a Time to Kill”. It stars Matthew McConaughey. To me, he is this generation’s Clint Eastwood.
The movie tells of an horrific rape of a little Afro-American girl aged about 6 or 7 by a group of deadbeat racist white trash in the South. The father of the little girl is so distraught, knowing that there will not be justice for her, he hides in the courthouse the night before the trial is due to begin and shoots and kills the perpetrator. He also wounds the local sheriff ( a good guy) who has to have his leg amputated. Its a really powerful film.
At the end of the trial, in his summing up, McConaughey’s character challenges the jury to close their eyes. He recalls the hideous detail of the rape and the damage to the little girl inviting them to imagine every scene. Incredibly powerful. Agonising detail. He asks “Can you see her? Can you see her?” Silence that is palpable permeates the screen. “Now imagine she is white”.
The Lawyer wins and the little girl’s Dad is released.
Nowhere near as dramatic or terrible as the above scenario but enough to remind me of the title of the film, here’s a personal imagination exercise from me, in honour of Christmas:
Imagine you are caught up in the middle of a pandemic.
Imagine you have not been together with your children and theirs for 3 years. Imagine you have missed out celebrating with them significant anniversaries : golden wedding anniversary, significant birthdays that end in zero – 10, 50, 70. Having dodged the virus bullet you have supported the Patriarch of the family through heart attack, surgery, rehab, COVID exposure scare ensuring all the while to keep your terror at what could happen under control so that the kids do not panic. Imagine relying so heavily on your youngest offspring for support all day every day and getting through it all together somehow!
Imagine the excitement of a possibility of one branch of the family getting “home” just before Christmas and another planning a visit over boxing day. Imagine those plans being cancelled at the last minute because of COVID ( I suppose we can nearly all do that).
Imagine Christmas morning receiving a copy of a text from the parent of your three and a half year old to her mother saying: :
“FYI ………… didn’t get any presents from us or Santa for her behaviour. She is having serious problems and we need to work together to get on top of it”
Imagine if her mother was your daughter.
In the movie, Carl Lee Hailey, the father of the little girl ,triumphs.
So too my daughter and hers.
The capacity to temper consequences for actions with love and understanding, especially when dealing with a child who is a dreamer, a singer, a joy and who has a will as strong as tungsten and who is not yet 4 can be a challenge of course.