The line stretches a mile from the entrance, nearly 500 jittering, stamping feet wait impatiently. The drone of voices is nearly deafening, buzzing like a million bees. Ahead the bright light of the door blasts the crowd of people, several shield their eyes from the shaft of intense whiteness, others gasp in joy and excitement.
A wave of noise spills down the line and hits you like a volley of shotgun shells, you stumble back in time to say “the doors are opening!” and you hear the phrase spin away behind you.
Looking down you see your child, the sole reason you’re here, she buzzes with excitement, you find it hard not to emulate that yourself, after all being an adult generally means you don’t get to see the latest Pixar release.
#DadRule No.27 You’ll get to watch movies that would be socially awkward without kids.
If I could count on my hands how many times I’d seen a movie with my kids that I never thought I get to see as an adult I’d have a hell of a lot of fingers; Tinker bell, Monsters Inc., That strange Peter Pan movie with Hugh Jackman, the list goes on, and these are the ones that I saw in the theatre with one or more kids, Netflix has made it possible for me to view them all over, and over, and over, add nauseum. Not to mention mess up my viewing algorithms.
It’s really great when you think about it, movies for kids can actually be quite enlightening for adults; and I’m not talking about the moment when you feel guilt or sadness for Woody when he gets left behind, or when you think that Anna will die in that cold room. I’m talking about the insight you get from being with your kids, what they liked in the film, what they got from it, how it relates to their lives. And mostly just the gleeful smiles of joy that they get from the experience.
Movies can be windows into our lives, they brush the surface of our emotional state, at least the good ones do. More often than not when we see films they offer us a chance to examine our own lives and take stock (again at least the good ones) of our emotional state or offer some sort of relief.
And in this sense I think it’s important to discuss the movie with your kids afterwards; find out what they enjoyed or didn’t enjoy, what made them sad or happy. These insights will ultimately help you form bonds with your kids, see their opinions and also help you drive their happiness and well being.
It’s not often that you get a chance to see what you kids find useful, helpful, or enlightening. Heck my kids can be a closed book when you try to pry information out of them, they clam up and simply drive away the subject with cold stares. Sometimes the sillies take over and you end up playing hide and seek for ages, or just in a tickle fight that inevitably ends in tears.
By discussing a movie or simply by watching them take in the themes and story you’re going to be catching (hopefully) an unguarded moment with them, a moment when inhibitions and social walls come down. A dark theatre is a safe place for them to laugh and cry, and in the case of Inside Out and pretty much every other Pixar film (they’ve really managed to find the core of emotional heartstring pulling), come face to face with the whole gamut of feelings.
So how do you get them to talk?
Well an after film chat is always a good start, perhaps go get a quiet drink or some lunch/dinner somewhere and talk over food, after all the dinner table is the conversation table too.
Use the films themes and characters to compare with their life or yours: “So you found it sad that Wall-E was alone all that time, do you ever feel that way? Do you have friends at school who you play with?” “You didn’t like those characters yelling at each other, do you feel that way any other times?”
It all seems corny but sometimes kids discuss their experiences through play and recreation.
While my eldest daughter has been growing up I’ve noticed that at night she often relives her day through conversation and play, this is usually when she’s meant to be going to sleep so I’m not always too happy about it. Often she’ll just lay in the dark room and run though all the stuff that happened, even reliving whole conversations with friends and in many cases her learning from the classroom.
Now without prying, we as parents, have been able to glean some valuable information from this; her social groups at school, peers that she looks up to, the relationship she has with her teachers, and more. It’s all valuable stuff when navigating the river that is parenthood.
Meanwhile our middle child loves “Let it go.” from Frozen, this was a clear indication that she’d love music more than the others. Now to break through to her you just need to sing, get her jolly on song and she’ll be your best friend.
Movies can do this too, you just have to tap through that barrier and start seeking, gently prodding their feelings about the film or character. Through discussion they’ll open up and be truthful, fingers crossed.
This is the sort of stuff a movie can do, or at least talking about the movie and their feelings with your child, its almost cathartic for them, hell it can be for us too. Who hasn’t felt a certain way for days after a particuarly touching film, sometimes they have a way of hitting that nerve.
Movies are great mediums but its not always true, some movies are just rubbish and offer nothing but entertainment value, while on the other hand some are just too heavy on the emotional baggage, you need to use your best judgement on what to see and how to use it to engage with you kids.
Now get out there and watch some flicks with you little ones.