I am a marshmallow.
Wasn't always, but I certainly am now. When I was younger, I prided myself on seeking out the most extreme, the most challenging, the most difficult movies and images I could. There was no work of fiction that went "too far" for me, and I considered it a thrill to sit through a movie that other people declared to be too dark or too upsetting.
Over the last decade or so, though, my empathy switch got recalibrated, and suddenly I find myself getting weepy over movies all the time, and since having kids, it's out of control. The strangest things set me off, and I am aware of how ridiculous it is even as I find myself utterly given over to these emotional thunderstorms. The other day, for example, I was driving Toshi to meet the rest of the family for Thanksgiving dinner, and he's recently become obsessive about The Beatles since I picked up some of the new remasters. So he demanded the White Album, and we were singing along to it as I drove, and we got to "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," and as I was singing about the domestic bliss of Desmond and Molly Jones, and as the angel-sweet voice of my little boy piped in from the back seat with "Life goes OOOOOOOON!", I lost it. It was one of those moments I will bank and treasure and look back on for the rest of my life, and it was nothing more complex than the right song at the right moment.
As a result of my self-appointed big ol' crybaby status, I was actively afraid of "The Lovely Bones." I knew what it was about, and I wasn't sure I wanted that in my head. I won't read news stories about abused and murdered children. I know it goes on all the time. I know there are people who do horrible things to children. But it's something that sends me into a near-physical panic now when I read details of these things. I hover a lot around my kids... I want to protect them from every bump and scrape right now, while i can, because I know for the most part, I'll have no control over their safety. I won't be around them 24 hours a day. All I can do is love my kids as well as possible, nurture their creativity and their education and foster as much joy as I can for them, so they grow up happy and smart and healthy, hopefully. All I can do is plan for the best and understand that the worst is always a possibility, always a very real shadow just waiting to fall on us.