Pheobe in Wonderland is a beautiful, independent film depicting the story of a family’s first daughter who struggles to fit in life. The first scene shows Pheobe creating a twinkling, fairy-like world in her bedroom. I was drawn in and intrigued by her large imagination. She, herself, is a darling child with whom I easily fell in love.
Throughout the film, Pheobe’s mother tries desperately to help her daughter experience life as a “normal” child. She takes her out to the theatre, and they go trick-or-treating at Halloween. She also fights to get Pheobe a second chance after multiple problems in school.
The characters who most inspired my question were the school Principal and Miss. Dodger. Pheobe is often found in the Principal’s office after speaking/acting rudely or out-of-turn in class. He always offers a candy and then proceeds to explain how terrible Pheobe’s actions were, never considering what may have caused them. Miss. Dodger (her drama teacher), on the other hand, welcome’s Pheobe and expects great things from her. She actually turns over the production of Alice in Wonderland to all the children. When the children begin to name-call and label one another, she meets the challenge face-on and supports their working through, rather than covering-over, to a solution.
Some respond to Pheobe with frustration, anger, and hatred. While others, accept Pheobe as a loving child and treat her with patience and compassion. In the second half of the film, Pheobe is diagnosed with Tourette syndrome. At this turning point, those who met her with anger, changed to patience and love. And, those who treated her with patience and love in the beginning continued to do so. I desire to be someone who treats all children with patience and compassion from our first meeting.
Is it necessary to know that someone has a challenge, a label, a diagnosis before we can treat them with the respect, patience, and love they deserve?