This weekend was a milestone for my little 3 year old.
His very first movie.
I’m a super stickler (read: mean mom) about tv/screen time, so he usually only gets his tv in 15 or 30 minute chunks. He’s also the type of kid who cannot handle “exceptions” in his schedule. By that I mean that if I just up and said, “Surprise! We’re watching a movie today!” he wouldn’t just enjoy it… he would beg and plead and cry and fuss every day for the next month about “Why one day we watched a movie?”. And that, to me, is just not worth it.
But as I’ve mentioned, we’ve been having some serious behavior issues lately. Though they are not all gone, he seems to be doing better overall. Most days. As an added incentive to finish up his sticker chart (which includes stickers for listening to his teachers and using gentle hands at school, and also, more recently, staying in his bed all night long and not waking us up), we decided to let him earn the opportunity to watch a movie. On the big tv in the newly renovated basement. Complete WITH POPCORN.
Owen finished up his sticker chart and I quickly started Googling what movies are appropriate for the 3 year old set. As usual, my lovely community of Twitter followers had more info for me than any Google site. And, coincidentally, we happened to run into his preschool teacher in the movie aisle of Target and she helped me pick some age-appropriate options as well.
- Not scary. Weird things seem to be making him anxious recently and given that I’ve sheltered him from most tv shows (he only watches Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Little Einsteins, Sid the Science Kid and Curious George), I could totally see him finding a lot of characters in a lot of movies quite scary. Thanks to my Twitter peeps, though, I realized that this is totally subjective (one kid may be totally freaked by Ursula in The Little Mermaid, but someone else might be way more sad/scared by the theme of Nemo being separated from his parents). Still, it had to be SUPER TAME in terms of character and content.
- Not show him bad examples of behavior in terms of ‘tudes or backtalk. Believe me, we have enough of this as it is. It’s one of the main reasons I have kept him away from mainstream tv and movies so long. Owen has a particularly hilarious (and annoying) ability to imitate characters and people. I don’t need him imitating characters that use bad behavior or nasty words.
- Be a real movie (not chopped up into small segments like tv), but not too long. I wanted it to feel special without making me feel like we spent the whole day in front of our tv.
- Enjoyable for me to watch too. I chose the tv shows that I allow him to watch very carefully with similar qualifications, and I must say, I enjoy watching those shows with him. I wouldn’t let him watch a show I didn’t want to watch too (at this age/stage at least).
And so, after much hemming and hawing and giving him a choice between The Lady & the Tramp, Cars and A Bug’s Life, he chose Cars. “I have those guys on my Pull-ups!”. I cringed a little, as it was our first foray into falling in love with commercialized characters. But then I told myself to stop being so scrooge-y and just enjoy this milestone and the joy radiating from my kid’s face.
He loved it. And so did Benjamin and I.
Since this was all so new to him, he couldn’t stop talking. Like, COULDN’T STOP. He asked questions about every car and truck and line of dialogue. He commented on the action and the motives behind each action and asked about the subtle jokes that are intended for adults. He didn’t miss a thing.
Perhaps our next lesson is how to watch a movie WITHOUT TALKING.
What was your kid’s first movie? What about their favorite one now? I have a feeling we’re going to have another movie afternoon as soon as he can fill up another sticker chart…