Where the Wild Things Are

The story of a young boy, Max, who struggles with loneliness and anxiety that is expressed in temper tantrums of frustration. When he feels neglected by his single mother who has a boyfriend, and his older teen sister who ignores his affection (nothing abnormal or dysfunctional, just the realities of life), he runs away and withdraws into an imaginary world of his own making, where the wild things are. In this world, he becomes king over the huge monsters who have adult voices, but all act exactly like children, or indeed, exactly like Max, running wild, having dirt clod fights, building a fort (“the place where only things you want to happen there happen”), but also throwing tantrums of jealousy, anger, control and selfishness. As Max experiences the consequences of his own behavior played out in the immaturity of the Wild Things, he begins to face the responsibilities of growing up – negotiating differences, delegating authority, becoming concerned for other’s feelings and maintaining loyalty. Through this journey of imagination, Max begins to see the self-destructive effects of staying a child and garners the nerve to go back home where he belongs, to his imperfect, yet loving mother, because Max is growing up. The key moment being when Max looks at the deterioration of the wild things into selfishness and blurts out, “I wish you guys had a mom.” Obviously, kids need moms, they need adult parents to shepherd them into adulthood by helping to curb their selfish tendencies. A coming of age story that incarnates maturity, not in sexual discovery as most coming of age movies, but in relational community and adult supervision.

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