Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids

We like the Little Miss Spider book, so I was a pretty easy sell when the girls begged me to buy a new DVD, Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Kids as we stood in the check-out line at Marshall's (great marketing placement, eh?). It is chock full of happy adoption themes, including a reprise of Miss Spider's adoption by Betty Beetle. And at the end, Miss Spider (who, BTW, is no longer Miss Spider, but Mrs. Spider, having married Holley before all of these blessed events) adopts three children -- a dragonfly, a jewel beetle, and a bedbug -- to add to the 5 biological children she already has.

There was, however, a "heavier" adoption discussion as well. Miss Spider is making an egg sack for the first time (resulting in those aforementioned 5 bio kids), and is quite nervous about it. She tells her mom (all of this is paraphrased, of course!), Betty Beetle, that she's just not sure how to make an egg sack. Betty says, "I guess I should have shown you how." Miss Spider replies, "That's OK. You're not a spider. It's something my spider mom should have taught me." And then a bit later Miss Spider worries about what kind of mother she'll be: "What if I'm like my first mom? She didn't even wait around until I hatched. . . ." Betty tells her everything she needs to know to be a mom is already in her heart.

Hmmm, very heavy, actually. This very short little scene strikes two different adoption issues. First, with transracial adoption -- Betty Beetle wasn't able to teach Miss Spider what she needed to know to be a spider mom, how to make an egg sack. Zoe figured out what that meant: "It's like you can't teach me Chinese, mama." Right. It's more than that, of course. It's culture and heritage, it's about being an Asian woman in today's world.

And then the second issue, Miss Spider wonders if she's like her birth mom and can only parent like her birth mom, a mom who abandoned her (Never mind that her birth mom's behavior is standard spider behavior! It's Miss Spider's anthropomorphic parenting-for-life behavior that is out of the ordinary. In this way, the story paints a pretty negative image of human birth mothers). This is such a common issue for adult adoptees, worrying about how their birth parents, or lack of knowledge thereof, relinquishment, and/or adoption will affect how they parent. I was really amazed to see this issue in a children's video, though I doubt children would get it (mine didn't react in any way).

So, a surprisingly intense viewing experience, at least for the adult watching! The kids enjoyed it very much. One other adoption theme worthy of note -- very positive reaction to the birth of Miss Spider's children by her adoptive mom, Betty Beetle, and her adoptive brother, Gus Beetle.


Mahmee said...

We watch the show occasionally on Noggin. I've always been impressed with how they approach adoption on the show, generally speaking. It's the only children's show that I've come across that does it so well (not that I've watched them all by a long shot!)

Wendy said...

M has every episode and the Halloween and original movie--my favorite. She loves Sunny Patch. Overall I think they do a good job, she likes that three of the bugs are adopted. There have been a couple of episodes that I think could have been done better, but day to day I find it very positive.
btw--it is from a book series.