Sunday, November 23, 2008

Their First Trip To The Movies

It was mostly about the popcorn.

This being contemporary Hollywood -- over-commercialized, branded and marked by sequels and prequels, it's probably fitting that the first movie Thing 1 and Thing 2 experienced in a movie theater was a sequel. MADAGASCAR 2. We picked it because they'd seen MADAGASCAR at home several times, pretty much liked it -- like most kids in America, they especially like to sing along to "MOVE IT, MOVE IT" -- and were only scared at one moment in the entire movie. So we figured it'd be a safe choice, though perhaps not the life-changing experience they got when they first screened MARY POPPINS at home.

We prepped them about how it was going to get dark when the previews came on; how the screen would be much bigger than our home TV; how they would have their own seats, but could sit on our laps if they got scared; how it was going to be loud. We'd been told by other parents of preschoolers to expect we might have to leave part-way through the movie, when the darkness, volume, or scary moments might prove too much for the kids.

Turns out, there was no reason to worry.

Thanks to the big heaping boxes of popcorn I put on their laps, they were content to munch -- and drink water from their sippies, placed conveniently in personal cupholders -- while witnessing the incomprehensible (to them, anyway) ad for a 007 Blu-Ray disc collection (I was cringing at the violence and the six-year-old behind us reacted to an explosion by saying, "That is not good"), all the trailers (which, thank goodness, were actually for kids' movies), and much of the film before getting restless (Thing 1) or momentarily frightened (Thing 2).

The seats were way too large for small legs that can't bend at the knee with a seat that long, not if they're going to sit back. Thing 2 solved the problem by sitting "criss cross, applesauce," while Thing 1 wound up getting up 2/3 of the way through and stretching his legs. He might've left had I not coaxed him into my much more comfy lap for the rest of the movie.

There were a lot of questions asked, primarily by Thing 2, who is keenly observant and the more sensitive, perhaps because she's a girl. It took a lot of attempts to finally get her to whisper the questions to me instead of ask them at full volume. When certain characters disappeared from the story for a time, she was terribly concerned about their whereabouts. When dangerous or scary things happened to characters, she got worried and at one point, cringed and closed her eyes and nearly started crying (thank you, evil producers, animators and writers for including a chomping, terrifying shark that had no business jumping out of the ocean and following a lemur all the way ashore and up to a volcano). Thing 2 evinced no such concern, and was fully absorbed and happy, at least until the popcorn ran out. (That's when I wound up coaxing him into my lap.)

But on the whole, they took to the in-the-theater experience like veterans. Several times Late Blooming Mom and Dad stole glances at them, as they smiled or stared in awe at what they were seeing ... or just kept stuffing popcorn into their mouths and looking small in the big red chairs. I think it was more special for us than it was for them. We even saved the ticket stubs.

When we emerged, it was quite foggy and dark, and the kids were full of energy. They gleefully ran to the fast food Greek restaurant (where they objected to the food, so we had to pop into the Mexican fast food place next door), and pretty much held it together for a post-dinner trip to Trader Joe's to buy cookies (a successful ploy by Dad to avoid having to give them ice cream; a couple of small animal crackers satisfied the "treat" demands). Bedtime was an hour-plus late, but we were all content.

Nobody ran howling from the theater; a fairly good time was had by all, save Thing 2's distress at that totally unnecessary shark (are you hearing this, Dreamworks? As a movie industry professional who analyzes scripts for a living -- let alone as a pissed off parent -- I put you on notice the shark was stupid). And a milestone was achieved.

Anyone for a matinee?

No comments: