Who doesn’t love family movie night? Introducing our children to great stories on the big screen allows us to open dialogues about the meta narratives of life, both happy and sad.
But let’s be honest: falling asleep during a movie is a rite of passage for any parent. And the dark days of winter are the perfect time for a family movie night nap.
As much as I enjoy onscreen drama, I’ll admit at times, I enjoy a nap even more. There have been occasions when a rainy-day matinee with three little people became a $15 nap for me. (Pro tip: always choose a theatre with very comfortable seats.)
One fateful movie-nap occurred at home during a viewing of Heidi. I had read the entire book, chapter by chapter, with my daughter, and we celebrated with an afternoon of movie viewing. Well, I celebrated with a nap.
I awoke to a my daughter in frantic tears. As she tried to explain what had gone so terribly wrong, the only words I could make out were, “the grandfather.” I rewound the movie to discover the terrifying plot twist. Apparently the screenwriter for the Shirley Temple production decided to change the ending. A lot. And, the kidnapping of the beloved grandfather petrified my daughter.
My nap was ruined, and she was scarred for life.
Of course, this did provide an opportunity to discuss how to handle scary moments, how to be brave, and the fact that movies don’t always follow the exact plot points of the book.
And, we learned to preview films. Even G-rated ones.
One year when my mother-in-law was visiting, we selected Planes Trains and Automobiles for family movie night viewing. I know, I know: that scene when Steve Martin’s character, Neal Page, finally breaks and has a meltdown at the car rental counter, using the f-bomb as every part of speech. No worries. The rest of the movie is family friendly, and we had a plan: husband was to turn down the volume during that scene.
Right on cue, movie began and husband dozed. Maybe I did too, I don’t really remember. I heard the kids laughing, and all was well.
I was startled awake by a loud expletive and the sound of my husband snoring softly.
“Dad,” one of the kids yelled.
Neal Page continued his tirade.
“Dad,” they yelled again.
“Huh? What?” He woke, startled.
“TURN IT DOWN,” we all yelled.
And so he fumbled for the remote and firmly hit the volume button, turning the sound louder instead of softer.
And thus my children – and my mother-in-law – listened in shock to Neil Page’s rental-counter diatribe in Dolby Surround Sound, at very high decibels.
We were all awake after that.
Fortunately, the movie has a happy ending with a great moral lesson, and none of my children imitated the rental-counter scene. At least not while I was around.
These dark days of winter, I’ll be looking forward to movie nights with my family. A nap may or may not take place.