Baby Mine– Overcoming the Trauma of Dumbo


The Disney movie, Dumbo, scarred me for life.

Long story short:  I must have seen it for the first time when I was about four years old.  My parents had divorced.  It was not amicable and I watched my mother suffer horrible emotional turmoil as a result. It made me feel unsafe, and is probably a big part of how my head got permanently wired for anxiety.

I’m not shaming or blaming.  It is what it is.

That’s all I’m going to say about that.

So, Dumbo.

There was a network in the early 80s that showed a Disney movie every Sunday night.  It was a big deal to stay up late and watch it.  And so it was I witnessed the trauma that was Dumbo.

OMG.  That scene where the mouse takes Dumbo to see his mom who is all chained up an a circus wagon.

Mama Jumbo had attacked a bunch of circus-goers for mocking her big-earred baby and was locked up for being vicious and violent.  Honestly, she was just doing what any devoted mama does to protect their young, and don’t even get me started on the atrocities of keeping elephants in the circus.  That’s another post for another day…

The mommy elephant swings her bereft baby on her trunk, singing that song. Baby mine, don’t you cry.  Baby mine, dry your eyes.  Seriously.  It wrecked me.  I never liked the movie, Dumbo and I don’t think I ever watched it again.  That song burned into my brain and triggered insecurity and sorrow if ever I heard it.

Flash forward 36 years.

My three and a half year old daughter is in dance class and that song plays as they flutter and frolic across the floor.  Emily sings it over and over again for the rest of the day.

A few weeks later, we find Dumbo while flipping around Netflix looking for something to watch for Family Fun Night.  It is Emily’s turn to pick, and she picks Dumbo.  The whole time we are watching it, I am watching her.  I gage her reactions, which are surprisingly nonchalant.  The movie ends and she gets on with her life.

This non-reaction to something that disturbed me my entire life fascinates me!

Emily has asked for the “Baby Mine” song so many times, I downloaded it to my phone.  She asks to listen to it every night before bed, while I sit rocking her.  Then she toddles off to her little bed and dreams sweet dreams without a care in the world.

How can this be?  That something so emotionally scarring to me, not only doesn’t cause her any distress, but actually brings her a sense of joy and peace?

The child-therapist in me pats myself on the back for forming a secure attachment with my kid.

And just like that, Dumbo no longer freaks me out.

Interesting. . .


5 responses »

  1. So lovely that you could get past this through your kids. Thanks for sharing it. The scene always makes me cry, but nothing like you describe. My kids were in no way moved by it either.

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