“Is this the movie Mommy?” A logical question from my three-year old son, since we are sitting in a movie theater. “No,” I loudly whisper, “This is a preview, a quick look at another movie.” “Is this the movie,” asks my daughter, also three, my son’s twin. “No, another preview,” I hiss, my speech more raspy-smoker than whisper. Fifteen minutes later, and this time frame is not at all hyperbole, my son asks, “Mommy where’s Mater?” I am suddenly plunged into the Never-ending Movie Previews sketch from Saturday Night Live, where the characters become cannibalistic as they wait through years of previews before their movie begins. We did not start to eat one another but we were ready for another bag of popcorn before Cars 2 began.
Our first movie experience together. Maybe my expectations were a bit high, but shouldn’t activities billed and marketed for children be child friendly? I have only had this motherhood job for 3 ½ years, so in some ways I am still a newbie, but I feel let down and a little confused a little too often in the world of children’s entertainment. Many of our experiences have been really rewarding. After a good day at Junglerrrific, many of our county parks, or an age specific show at the New Victory Theater I almost pat myself on the back for making such rewarding, enriching, and down-right fun choices for my children. I am mother of the year and my kids are happily napping in the car on the way home, their bodies and minds satisfied and ready for sleep.
Some choices I have made, however, have made indelible marks on my maternal crown. Certain Count Basie performances (See We Got Kicked), gym babysitting on certain days at certain gyms (a post for another day) and Cars 2 are on the plane of wow, what the hell just happened there? When things go awry, I naturally blame myself. I should have researched the activity better, the timing was not right, I didn’t feed, nap, dress the children appropriately, etc. However, when I have done those things, I am left a little bewildered, as I was this past Friday morning.
Cars 2 is rated G. We attended the 10:10am performance. Both children slept well the night before. My husband, a good friend and her lovely 3 year old son came with us. We had popcorn as well as a satchel of snacks. We loved Cars 1. How could this be bad? After the 30 minutes of previews (again, this is not hyperbole!) the movie began with a slow moving mission impossible plot that concluded with gunfire and a huge explosion leading the audience to believe that more than one car had been demolished. Perhaps we should have abandoned the performance right then and there but the kids did not seem like they wanted to leave so we stayed for the whole movie, with a little bit of seat jostling and aisle walking here and there.
I suppose what I lament the most is that this was supposed to be something special for my son. His review of the film was positive and I guess that is all that matters, but I worry that his soul will be stolen by large explosions and excessive marketing. I know I cannot keep my children in a bubble but my blood boils when I see my son emulating Mater karate chopping and naming and wanting every new character car from the film. I know I am very naïve and way too idealistic at times, but can’t some things be capitalism free and pure for my kids just a little longer?
For now, I will try to stick to product free environments. Monmouth County Parks, the library, and our local beaches, as long as I can avoid the red dye disaster of the character ice pops at the snack bar, should keep us busy for most of the summer. I know the coming attractions of our lives will only bring more opportunistic opportunities, but for now we will try to live in the movie I can narrate for their childhood.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by Amy Griffiths, a New Jersey mom.
Photo credit give to FOX News.