Because we have these new summer rulesÂ at our house, movie night has taken on extra-special meaning. Instead of one watching LOST on the tv in our bedroom, one watching a superhero movie on the tv in our family room and one watching something animated on the tv in the basement, movie night is family movie night, where we all crowd on top of each other on one single couch, passing the popcorn and arguing over the blanket.
So now I am constantly on the search to find things that interest all three of the kids, whichâ€”when you have kids who are as different as mine areâ€”can be a challenge. When we all crowded around a small screen to watch the preview for the new LesMiserables movie and the kids took delight in watching me cry some ugly tears as Anne Hathaway so brilliantly mastered Fantine’s pain in I Dreamed a Dream, and forced me to play the song over and over and over until finally I introduced then to Do You Hear the People Sing? and then it was over for my kidsâ€”Les Miz fans for life. So, we downloaded the movie version, put it on for the kids and then…”WHY IS THERE NO MUSIC?” because, well, we had downloaded the Liam Neeson version which,Â apparently, has no music. Fail #1. So, then we downloaded another versionâ€”the 10th anniversary concert (wheee Colm Wilkinson!), put it on for the kids and then…”WHY IS THERE ONLY MUSIC?” because, well, the concert is not the play, it’s *just* the music. Fail #2. So, I guess we wait now for December and hope and pray that Russell Crowe doesn’t ruin the entire thing for everyone involved.
In attempt #3, we scored big.
Everyone loved it.
The kids had so many questions about the early 70s.
Mostly, they were focused on the fact that the kids were allowed to just ride around their small Pennsylvania time with no bike helmets.
“Life was just different back then, you guys.”
I told them stories of when I was kid. How my long summer days in the 1980s were spent outside, riding around with neighborhood kids. We explored the ravine behind our house, we built lemonade stands, we had swinging contests in the backyard, we played mega games of Monopoly, we rollerskated, we climbed trees, we got lost in Barbie’s dream house. We did everything that we could pack into those precious daylight hours and always made sure to be home for dinner.
Because we could.
We didn’t worry about safety.
We didn’t worry about the shows we were missing.
We hadn’t discovered theÂ mesmerizingÂ ability of screens.
We didn’t have cell phones, or ipods, or DSis.
We had our Schwinns, our Nikes, and our imaginations.Â
My kids don’t know how to just play. They want to be entertained from the time they wake up until the moment they go to sleep. They crave it, they need it. They don’t know how to make their own fun. After 20 minutes on their bikes they are hot and sweaty. After 15 minutes on the trampoline they are tired and ready to move on to the next big thing. I try to explain to my kids that I did all the playing when I was kid; it’s their turn to play now. I am not responsible to build fun into every minute of every day. I am not responsible for playing Monopoly. I am not responsible for playing in Barbie’s dream house.
I mean, I get that we do have to shelter our kids a little bit more, and I can’t just let them run off on their bikes and not wonder where they are until dinnertime.
I can’t just throw a $5 bill at Emily and tell her to go to the park and the convenience store for popsicles with a friend.
So, I realize that things have changed.Â But I wish we could go back a little bit.
I wish we could just had them a Schwinn, a pair of Nikes, and an imagination and just let them go. Because I’m sure what they could come up with would be amazing, and most definitely less annoying.Â