The lessons of Soul Surfer, as interpreted by my daughter

October 3, 2011

in Stories, Tessa

Tessa, Reed and I are watching Soul Surfer, a DVD that Tessa picked out from the local Redbox with Daddy while Mommy was out of town. They’ve already watched it but we see it again together.

It’s a feel-good movie with heartwarming moments of triumph over adversity and portrayal of family unity and support, and it tackles the question, why do bad things happen to good people?

Bethany Hamilton was a 13 year-old surfer in Hawaii when, in 2003, her left arm was taken by a shark. She not only surfed again, but she surfed competitively and won. She has since become an inspiration to anyone who has had to overcome an obstacle, especially children and teens.

The main character is played by AnnaSophia Robb whom, as I’ve said before, bears an uncanny resemblance to Tessa (or vice versa). So Tessa has always identified with this grounded and wholesome actress, who hails from the Denver area.

I keep pointing out, as we watch the film, values that Roger and I have been trying to instill in our children.

  • “I’m impressed by how the entire family is on the same team, supporting each other and not fighting!” I say with particular emphasis.
  • “Look at how Bethany lets nothing stop her! She is going to surf again no matter what. Such determination!” I belabor with many exclamation points.
  • “I notice how she feels sad but doesn’t let the sadness stop her,” I note.
  • “Wow. Bethany doesn’t waste any time feeling sorry for herself, does she? She doesn’t expect people to give her special treatment.”

Just in case Tessa and Reed missed any of that.

The angel choir chimes in my head when Tessa says to me: “Mom, I’m going to be just like Bethany for the next week!”

OMG, this is going to be so fantastic. No more pecking at her brother. No more excuses about schoolwork. Feeling emotions but not letting them rule her. Commitment to her goals.

It’s gonna be a great week.

At bedtime in her room, Tessa moves around oddly as she gets ready for bed, but I can’t quite pinpoint why. She argues with me over various issues: packing for school tomorrow, picking up dirty laundry from her bedroom floor, who gets the last toaster strudel in the morning, and how she really doesn’t want to go to an after-school activity this week.

“Tessa,” I say.

“Whatt!” she says with the sullenness of a full-teenager, which she is not yet.

“What about being like Bethany this week? I thought you were going to try to get along with Reed better and meet your commitments and keep going even if some things are difficult.”

She looks at me as if I’ve got surfboard styrofoam for brains.

“Mommm,” she begins to spell out to me as if I were the child, “What. are. you talking about? I MEANT that I was going to not use my left arm for a week.”


My bad.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

loribeth October 3, 2011 at 7:33 am

Well, duuuuuhhhh. ; ) Sorry, this cracked me up this morning!

I haven’t seen it, but my 19-year-old nephew says it’s the best movie he’s ever seen. : )


a October 3, 2011 at 9:02 am

Well, obviously! She’s too funny.

I don’t doubt she gets the message anyway…


JoAnne Bennett October 3, 2011 at 9:37 am

I was sure your daughter’s answer was going in a whole different direction with her answer …that she didn’t want to lose her arm in order to be just like Bethany :).


gretchen from lifenut October 3, 2011 at 11:34 am

That is hysterical! I love everything about this post.

It is a really great movie, too. Stories about resilient people doing brave things get me every time.


Lori October 3, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Great ending to a great story! I love feel-good movies. I’ve got to watch this one.


Kir October 3, 2011 at 2:23 pm

oh wow, I totally saw that coming. Maybe I am still a teenager too LOL. I haven’t seeen that movie yet but I am thinking that we should all embrace that kind of not let anything big or small stop us. Hope Tessa’s week is a gloriously eye opening one. She is a fantastic little girl with a awesome mom.


Mel October 3, 2011 at 7:07 pm

I just read this aloud because I was laughing, and Josh just did one of those laughs where no sound comes out because he was laughing so hard.


Kathy October 3, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Great post Lori! I have had a challenging parenting day, so especially appreciated what you shared here about the different ways that parents and children can perceive the same things, such as your and Tessa’s reactions to the movie.


Han October 4, 2011 at 1:15 pm

LOL. When dealing with pre-teens one must think like a pre-teen. It’s not as easy as it sounds.


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