With so much time on my hands, I have added dozens of movies and shows saved on my List of things to watch on Netflix. I have been binge-watching everything I possibly can. Yesterday, I saw a new movie added on there called A Kid Like Jake.
If you haven’t watched the movie, please don’t read on any further. I am planning on talking about the parenting that takes place in this movie and the relationship dynamics between the parents and Jake.
The movie itself is slow moving. It’s a drama that consists of a lot of dialogue. Although the movie is about four-year old Jake and his gender non-conformity, you seldom see little Jake throughout the movie. Mostly you are looking at the relationship between the parents and how they are dealing with the stress of their home life while they are trying to get their son into private school.
I did like the idea of this movie. I don’t think there are enough movies or shows out there to address the gender boxes we put our children in, specifically boys. Some parents see a boy playing with a barbie, or wanting to wear a dress and they panic, they try and “shut it down” and discourage that kind of behaviour.
Because a lot of people think that boys liking things that society has decided are meant for girls means that they themselves want to be girls. They fear it is a sign that their son will be gay, and despite how they felt outside of that moment, whether they are accepting of homosexuals or the LGBTQ+ community, it is different when it is their child.
I can’t speak for these people. I can only speak on situations I’ve seen or existed in. It isn’t that these parents have anything against people who identify outside of their born sex, or love people society, although way more encompassing and accepting now, don’t necessarily think they should love. I think it’s because every parent has a dream for their child. They have a vision of how their lives will play out. They see their son as someone who will grow to be a good man they can be proud of, one who will fall in love and give them babies. Most times, that vision is a boy/girl relationships. Our minds have just been hardwired by the world we live in to see it that way.
Seeing their son dress outside the norm, love fairytales and envision himself as the damsel in distress as opposed to the heroic prince may cause them to subconsciously mourn the idea they had of their child. The life they had planned for him.
In A Kid Like Jake both his mother and his father (played by Claire Danes and Jim Parsons) seem so comfortable with his personality in the beginning of the movie. It leads you to be believe that the conflict in the film will be with the parents and the outside world.
Instead, the personality of Jake is brought up to his mother by a friend, Judy (played by Octavia Spencer) of hers who also is the director at his pre-school. She mentions his unique view of the world, his interests and how he doesn’t feel restricted by gender-norms. She then suggests she should use this information to help Jake stand out on his private school applications as they are always looking for diversity.
Jake’s mother acts as though she has been taken completely by surprise and like she is hurt by her friend’s words. Her reaction had me disliking her character through the rest of the movie.
As a parent, as a new parent, there is nothing more important to me than my child’s happiness. If my daughter is happy covered head to toe in mud, then I will let her play in the mud. If she is happy wearing rain boots every day, rain or shine, accompanied with a tutu and a wizard’s hat, than that is what she will wear. As long as she isn’t hurting anyone, her happiness comes above all else.
I do understand being protective when the subject of your child’s sexuality comes up, like at one point in the movie where poor Jake is called a ‘Flag’ by another kid at his fifth birthday party. What I don’t understand is being so closed off.
A conversation comes up in the middle of the movie. Greg and Alex (Claire Danes and Jim Parsons) are out to dinner with a friend of Alex’s who’s son is friends with Jake (Priyanka Chopra) and her date (Aasif Mandvi) and he asks the table about Caitlyn Jenner. He said he had heard in an interview that she is still interested in women and asks if this makes Caitlyn a lesbian. Alex gets upset when he said the reason he brought it up was because when Greg and Alex had stepped away from the table to take a call, they had spoken about Jake.
I had expected her to stand up for Jake. To tell them that he was unique and wonderful and he would be wonderful whether it was wearing a dress or wearing overalls. Instead she buckled. She was flustered and went home to blame their parenting with Jake, as though if they had made different choices, they would have a different Jake.
I felt bad for Greg throughout the movie. You see glimpses of him when he is truly happy and it is moments where he is watching Alex and Jake play together. he is supportive and receptive, and he tries to support Alex in all her day to day choices and life but you can tell she often bulldozes over him which leads to him keeping a lot of his thoughts and opinions to himself.
It’s definitely a movie worth watching, although I do feel like the movie should have revolved a little more around Jake. The relationship between his parents are important because it explains some of his pent up frustrations and aggressive behaviour, but we never really hear from Jake why he loves it all so much, why he prefers to be a princess than a prince and I think that would have really opened up a lot of eyes to why some people make certain choices.
My daughter is young. There is still a lot of time before she learns to understand who she is. I think that in today’s society it is important for all parents to let their children know they can come to them with anything and we won’t judge or suppress them. We need to encourage them to be who makes them most happy so long as we also encourage them to be good people.
Kindness and love, everything else is up to her.
If you get a chance I would suggest watching the movie. Although it wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be, I am hoping that if the movie gets enough support, it will open the door to more movies and shows like this one that open our eyes into different people’s hearts and how they love and feel.