I finally got around to watching Wall-E with my son this week. For anyone not familiar with the movie, Wall-E is an animated movie put out by Pixar last year to rave reviews. The movie takes place in the far future where Wall-E, a cleaning robot, is attempting to clean an Earth long since covered in trash and deserted. He meets another robot named Eva, hijinks ensue, and they end up falling in love, saving the Earth, and all of humanity.
This movie sounded perfect. LR loves cartoons (there's a shock), learned all about Earth Day recently, and was given a toy Wall-E robot a while back which he loves (albeit mainly because the toy winks at him). What I had not taken into account, mainly because I didn't think of it, was that a child who is currently struggling with reading other people's emotions might have a problem figuring out precisely how the animated robot might feel.
His difficulty came from a number of sources, not the least of which is the fact that the robots rarely speak, they have neither noses nor mouths, and no eyebrows (although one of the main robot's eyes do change shape as if she did have eyebrows). The only emotional cues are body language and robotic beeps. Suffice it to say that while I loved the movie, I basically spent ninety minutes giving my son a running commentary on what each of the characters was feeling at any given moment, why they were feeling this, and how I knew. Granted, this is probably excellent practice for him, and precisely the kind of activity I should be doing with him, but it's hardly a good way to enjoy a movie.
Are most children this bad at this, or is this "a symptom?" If other kids do have this problem (and I assume they all have at least some problems learning body language) is four the right age for it or should he have already picked up on most of this by now? I have no idea. I guess it's just one more thing I have to go out and learn.