Trailer Park Unschoolers

Because you don't need to be rich to unschool!

Inspiration: Man on Wire


Today we were looking for something a little different to watch.  We’ve been watching a lot of Cake Boss recently and a little bit of Construction Intervention.  The kids were getting sick of watching television shows, so Corde asked if she could watch a movie.  I decided it had to be a documentary.  We haven’t been doing much educational stuff with all the Maddy drama, so I wanted to try and encourage the kids to learn something, take an interest in something new.  Besides, I’ve been on a documentary kick, so it was also for me.  I have to admit that I go through these kicks of wanting to watch things that make me feel like I use the gray matter between my ears.  I think it’s because I feel like my brain rots too much because I spend too much time on electronic entertainment.  That and I feel like I’m an inadequate mother because other kids I know seem so much more grown up than my own.  I have to remind myself constantly that the areas in which Corde and Beekee are advanced aren’t the same ones that other kids are.  Sander may not talk to the level of some of the kids that were born around when he was, but he’s also well ahead of others.  I can’t really use my kids skills, talents, and meeting of milestones to prove whether or not I’m a good mom.  I’ve got to let go of my fears of being a bad mom, or at least not good enough.

So Corde and I were looking through documentaries.  I passed over a couple of them because they were really too adult.  I’m not going to have my kids watch something about murderers and things, especially with everything going on with Maddy.  Corde might just start to fear Maddy.  Then again, I couldn’t blame her.  I would be wondering about her too after hearing about murderers and things.  Of course, the list of documentaries is chalk full of videos about the food industry.  There are a handful about religion.  We saw one about the Civil War.  There were even a number I thought Corde would have chosen about artists.  Instead she completely caught me off guard.  She picked a documentary I never would have expected.  The choice was so shocking that I actually questioned her on it.  “Are you sure?  Okay, if that’s what you want.”

The documentary she chose? Man on Wire, a documentary about a man named Philippe Petit.  Don’t know the man?  Or maybe you’re old enough that you do.  I certainly know I’m not.  His fame was won and forgotten before I was even born.  What was he famous for?  This is where I’m surprised Corde had interest.  The man was a tightrope walker.

I have to admit, I thought the idea of the documentary was fascinating.  I’ve always been afraid of heights, so seeing tightrope walkers has always amazed me.  The more extreme their stunts, the more impressed I am.  This man certainly has an incredible claim to fame, something no one else will ever be able to replicate.  He walked a tight rope strung across the twin towers.

For some that might still be a sore subject.  It’s been quite some time, eleven years, since the towers fell.  Life has drastically changed since then in some ways, but in others, it’s still very much the same.  Even if the towers were rebuilt, this is a stunt that could never be repeated.  It would mean breaking into the building to set up and I’m pretty sure they prepared themselves for that after that whole stunt.  The whole process took so much planning and preparation.

This wasn’t just some tightrope walker that decided one day, “Hey, let’s string a cable across the towers and I’ll walk it!”  The whole thought process stared before the towers were even constructed.  He not only had years of preparation to do, but he had to wait for the towers to even be constructed.  Not only that, he was living in France at the time.

The kids got a serious lesson out of this, you can accomplish absolutely anything you set your heart to.  This took a team of men, half of whom couldn’t even understand each other because they didn’t speak the same language.  They had to break in to the building, first to collect the information they needed, then to actually execute the stunt.  They had to trouble shoot in order to make the walk safe.  Instead of the usual calavetti used to tie down the wire, they had to modify it to attach to the buildings themselves.  It was amazing to hear about everything they went through.  If these men could accomplish this so their friend could live his dream, what’s stopping anyone from following their vision through to the end?

Of course, Corde had one question.  I’m sure you all know it’s coming by now.  “Is tightrope walking an art?”  I wasn’t entirely sure how to answer that, so I told her it’s kind of like an art, like dance.  It’s a performance.  It’s a show.

Then both the kids had the same thing to say, “I want to meet him!”  I wish I knew how to go about setting something like that up.  I think that would be phenomenal.  The kids could learn so much from a man that was passionate enough to follow his dream.  Just seeing his passion as he talks about the whole experience in the movie.  It’s obvious that this is an experience he lived for.  He is just so impassioned!  It’s completely inspirational.

This is exactly why I like watching these kinds of shows with my kids.  Not only do they find inspiration in them, but I find them incredibly interesting too.  I’m really glad Corde picked that instead of the show on Mozart or whatever other options she was toying with.  She had thought about something else, though I don’t remember what that was.  Finally, out of the blue, she said, “I want to watch the one about the guy on the wire.”  It meant going back through all the listings, but it was totally worth it.  I think that’s one of the most interesting biographical stories I’ve seen to date.  It was amazing.  I can’t wait to share more moments like this with my kids!  I wonder what will be next on our list…


Author: Fox

With four kids, who has time for much? We spend a lot of time together, which translates to a lot of knitting time for me when we hang out. We've been trying to get back to our unschooling roots. We watch a lot of videos, play a lot of games, and pay attention to the things we notice in our everyday life. It's been quite the big adventure!

2 thoughts on “Inspiration: Man on Wire

  1. I recently read a story book to my daughter about Philippe (this is the only reason I recognized the name!) But this documentary sounds so much more interesting. I might have to look into getting a copy of it. “Thanks for sharing!!!!

    • You’re very welcome! I loved the documentary. They went through the planning, had actors recreate their process. And it’s wonderful to listen to how incredibly excited Philippe is when he talks about the experience. It’s positively spellbinding! He’s incredible! I’m so glad I could share!

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