Journal: Wreck-It Dad

November 12, 2012

The family dynamic at our house is an interesting one. Lydia and Jessica are just a year apart. Because of their age they place a higher demand on my time than the two younger ones.

This last Friday there was a women’s summit at our church. Julie, Lydia and Jessica went to that and I was left with Elaina and Anjelia.

I decided it would be fun to take the two of them (and one of Elaina’s friends) to see the new Disney Movie: Wreck-It Ralph.

The girls wanted a little adventure so they grabbed their smuggling bags (aka purses) and we headed to Walgreens to purchase some candy.


The loot!

Elaina and her friend picked a spot along the edge of the theater with just two seats, and Anjelia sat in the center of the room with me.

*Warning! The following is full of all kinds of movie spoilers!*

I’m a sucker for movies that have little girls as main characters. “Wreck-It Ralph” was perfect for last Friday’s entertainment choice.

After thirty years of being the bad guy Ralph is fed up with being unappreciated by everyone else in his arcade game. At the end of each work day Ralph has to spend the night on the pile of rubble he has created during his work day. Everyone else gets to have a party in the house he spends his days trying to knock down. The reason Ralph has to hang by himself? He isn’t the hero of the game.

In a moment of frustration Ralph crashes one of the parties. Some of the other game characters explain that he cannot be a part of the party because he isn’t a hero. The proof of his lack of hero-ness? Ralph doesn’t have a gold medal. If he can just get a gold medal he will finally be accepted by all the other heroes in all the games.

Ralph’s solution is to crash another game and grab the grand prize: A Gold Medal.

Ralph is a big guy, and even though the game he decides to crash is violent and full of really powerful monsters he easily grabs the medal. Once he has the medal in his hands he quickly jumps into an escape pod. In his attempt to escape he crashes into a completely different game and is introduced to Vanellope von Schweetz. She is a little girl who shares some of Ralph’s same desires: friendship, success and recognition.

During Ralph’s first encounter with Vanellope he loses his gold medal and the two realize they will have to team up if he is to get his medal and she is to win her race. Through the course of the film we watch as a really big guy and little girl build a friendship while trying to accomplish similar goals. Ralph gains his hero status but not in the way he thought he would.

As I walked out of this film with three wonderful girls, I was left to consider my own attempts to be a hero. I believe most dads want to be heroes to their daughters. We seem to get caught up in the idea that the position of hero can be taken. Just like Ralph we think we can get to the top using brute force. Ralph thought being a hero could be taken.

At one point in the film Vanellope gave Ralph a homemade medal made out of a cookie. The cookie was of greater value than the gold medal because it wasn’t taken; it was given. Ralph thought the best way to become a hero was a shortcut using brute force. He learned that real heroes have to sacrifice time, energy and potentially their own personal goals while helping those around them.

There are no shortcuts on the road to being a hero dad either. We can’t wreck our way to the top and take possession of our daughters’ hearts. Much like Ralph we have to earn the position of hero. We will have to sacrifice time and energy. We may even have to put our own goals and desires aside for a time while we help guide and direct.

Being a hero isn’t about what we can prove. It’s about who we are helping.

James Dibben