Everything's Right in This World.
*Warning: Spoilers from the film Coraline ahead*
Bringing my twin 10-year-olds to see the stop-action animated film Coraline was one of the best things I could’ve done to help them see my work-from-home arrangement from a different perspective . . . and perhaps be a little easier on their mom.
Before seeing the movie, whenever I’d been reading and writing in my office, the kitchen or the family room on weekdays and occasional weekends, my kids would wonder why I wasn’t there to simply do their bidding and meet their every heart’s desire. As deadlines would loom over my head, they’d ask, “Did you do the laundry?” or “Can’t you take me to Matt’s house?” or “Did you go to the grocery store? Why isn’t there any milk?”
“You see me?” I said to my 10-year-old son when he came home from school one day and demanded to know why I hadn’t washed his jeans that day, “I’m working right now. Pretend I’m in an office somewhere else, not here, still working. If I were in an office, I couldn’t do the laundry.”
Then we saw Coraline. The story, in a nutshell: A young, blue-haired girl -- Coraline Jones -- moved with her work-from-home writer parents to a new apartment building in an old, battered Victorian house. Her parents were working furiously trying to meet a deadline for their gardening catalog and didn’t have time to decorate the new apartment, fill the pantry and the refrigerator, or cook anything that looked remotely edible. Their whole apartment was gray and drab, containing no curtains, no color, no vibrancy. Everything about the parents’ appearance, in fact, was just as gray and drab as they were hunched over, pecking away at their keyboards wearing shapeless clothing while sitting on depressing, folding metal chairs. Coraline kept trying to distract them – as my own kids have done to me on a number of occasions, sometimes even staging wrestling matches in front of my office door -- in order to get attention. But they simply shooed Coraline away and told her to entertain herself. “Let me work,” her father pleaded.
As she explored her new digs, Coraline discovered a door hidden behind the wallpaper in the living room and decided she HAD to open it, but she couldn’t do it on her own. Her frazzled mother (voice by Teri Hatcher) told Coraline (voice by Dakota Fanning) that she’d open it if Coraline would agree to stop pestering her. Though the door initially led to a brick wall, later that night Coraline discovered there was a secret tunnel which led to an amazing Bizzaro world. On the other side of the door was Coraline’s life. Only better, no . . . amazing, and in Technicolor. Her mother was still her mother, but she was an improved version. The “Other Mother” cooked roasts and cakes, decorated with flowers and candles, played games, wore beautiful clothing and make-up and arranged for shows to be performed in Coraline's honor. Her father sang songs with Coraline’s name in them and planted a garden in the shape of Coraline’s face that came to life when she walked by.