I was once an eighth grader myself and I parented two sons through that phase. Those experiences however have little in common with what it is like to be an eighth grader today in a world dominated by technology, where navigating relationships on Instagram and Snap Chat is perilous and where trying to figure out who you are apart from your social media presence seems impossible. The movie Eighth Grade which I saw on Monday night with friends does an amazing job of taking you into the world of young teens and showing you just how strange and difficult and awkward it can be to find your way through that social milieu.
The young girl at the center of the film Kayla lives with her father who has been her single parent since she was just a toddler. He is such a good dad! Concerned, caring, trying to give his daughter space to make choices but at the same time letting her know he is always there for her. Kayla is at a point of such low self esteem but her father makes it clear he thinks she’s a great kid!
The father Mark Day played by Josh Hamilton clearly believes being a good father is the most important thing in his life. He has a job but he doesn’t appear to let work or his social life interfere with his clear priority to just ‘be around’ so whenever his daughter does want to talk or she is upset he’s there.
The movie is great on many levels- from fifteen year old Elsie Fisher’s amazing performance as Kayla- to wonderful but cringe worthy scenes like the one where Kayla has a date with a loveable but totally nerdy boy she met at a party- to the truly scary scenes like the one where a highschool guy tries to take advantage of Kayla’s need to be liked and accepted.
I’d recommend the movie first and foremost though for parents of young teens because the Dad in this movie although he is bumbling and gets it wrong sometimes, and can drive his daughter wild, is basically stoic and caring and provides a textbook example of how to parent an eighth grader with unconditional love and a reassuring presence.
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Folk artist Maud Lewis has become something of a celebrity in Mennonite circles in the last month. One of her paintings was discovered unexpectedly in a Mennonite Central Committee thrift store in New Hamburg Ontario and is now up for auction. Bids are already over the $100,000 mark.
My friend Esther introduced me to Maud Lewis and her colourful, lively paintings many years ago. I came to love Maud’s work and was excited to see her home when I visited the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia. Maud’s entire house has been carefully preserved in the gallery.
I kept this brochure from my visit to Maud’s house in the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.
When I was a high school teacher Maud was one of four Canadian artists whose life story and work I used in a grade eleven English unit I created called What is Art? I remember students writing poetry about Maud and submitting it on the decorated seats of old wooden chairs or on painted cookie sheets. Maud painted almost every surface in the small house she shared with her husband Everett including kitchen utensils and furniture.
You can see that process come to life in a new movie called Maudie which focuses on the relationship between folk artist Maud Lewis and her husband Everett. I own a well- read copy of a Maud Lewis biography by Lance Woolaver and think the relationship between Maud and her husband played by Ethan Hawke has been romanticized for the movie. In a CBC interview screenwriter Sherry White admits as much. Despite taking this licence the film gives us a memorable insight into the life of a Canadian artist many people may not even know.
We took this photo of Trinity Newfoundland while on a hike. It was not only a filming location for Maudie but also for the film The Shipping News.
My husband Dave was sure as we watched Maudie that some of the scenes from the movie must have been filmed in Trinity Newfoundland a place we visited last September. Sure enough a check of film locations proved he was right! But then he almost always is. Dave also thinks actress Sally Hawkins does an Oscar worthy job of playing Maud a woman of humour and determination whose body becomes more and more twisted by crippling arthritis as the film goes on. If you want to see if he is right about that you will have to go and see the film.
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