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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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The trauma of Movie Night.

We decided that once a week we'd have a Movie Night. Actually I decided it. This was my stupid idea, conjured up in the name of family togetherness. I pictured Cuddling Under Blankets While Enjoying Popcorn and a Fun Movie. Usually it's more like Henry Watching Some Asinine Video He Insisted On While Scott and I Sleep on the Couch. Family togetherness!

If Henry figures out that there's a movie I want to rent, he will fight me to the death. Heaven forfend that he might get a whiff of the movie somehow being worthwhile. Or educational. He would rather rent the crappy movies from the library, like The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, starring Hal Holbrook (and Dixie Carter!), which we have rented approximately 30 times. He'd choose an instructional video on crocheting techniques, if it keeps me from renting one of those loathsome classics.

I didn't consult him this time. (I'm a slow learner, but I do eventually make progress.) I just went and done rented a movie without even getting his say-so. "Henry, I got us a fun movie," I told him on Saturday morning. Big mistake. What I should have said is, "Henry, I rented a movie that I can't stand, but oh well, I'll just sleep, no biggie." THEN his interest would be piqued. Why do I have such a perverse child?

"Noooo," he whined.

"You don't even know what it is, and you're saying no?" And I'm surprised for what reason, exactly?

"What is it." He glared at me.

"Robin Hood! [The 1938 version, if you must know.] It's got cool sword fights and—"

Oh, but he was already on the ground, wailing. Actual tears fell upon the area rug.

"I don’t even like sword fights," he screamed.

My god, what kind of a monster am I? Forcing my child to witness such a spectacle?

"If you don't like the movie, you don't have to watch it. It's a movie."

He thought about this. "Okay, so if I don't like it, you'll turn it off and we can watch something else. "

"Noooo. If you don't like it you can get up and do something else while we watch."

He threw himself back down to the ground. Not to be able to turn it off halfway through! The agony! I pictured Henry at a movie theatre, standing up on his seat. "ATTENTION. I AM NOT ENJOYING THIS MOVIE. PLEASE PUT ON ANOTHER ONE. PREFERABLY THAT ONE WITH HAL HOLBROOK."

Fast forward to Sunday night. After announcing that he wouldn't watch it, well, maybe he would, but only for a minute; he guessed he could try watching it, maybe, but if he didn't like it he didn't have to watch it, right? Right? We sat down to watch the movie.

Much to my non-surprise, he loved it. (Actually it looked as if he might hate it just to spite me, but his resolve weakened in the first five minutes of the film.) Parents of five-year-olds: rent Robin Hood. Even if your child fights you on it, even as he weeps and shrieks, know that he will love it. How could it miss? There's sword play! Quarterstaff fencing! Errol Flynn, laughing his lusty laugh, his arms akimbo! Makeout sessions with Maid Marian! Henry didn't even flinch at the necking. "They're going to be married," he observed. Yes, son, because once your lips fall onto another's, you are betrothed.

This morning Henry entered my bedroom with something behind his back. "I want to congratulate you," he said, "for picking the bestest movie ever. Here is your Lego guy." He handed the guy to me. "This Lego guy is for you only. No one else can play with it."

"Thanks, Henry. You know what would also be a nice reward? Maybe next time I pick out a movie, you'll trust me."

He looked at me. "Your Lego guy has a special helmet," he said, and ran from the room.

My prediction for next week's movie night: an unsung animated gem starring Hal Holbrook. You heard it here first.

Reader Comments (46)

thanks for making me laugh out loud tonight. cheers to you for the good movie pic!
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commentershanna murray
That reminds me of my firstborn - he went through a stage when he was 2 or 3 when he would enter the kitchen for dinner, espy food already set on the table, and (regardless of which food it was) yell, panicked-like, "I don't like that!"
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSuburbanCorrespondent
Well, this is seriously Hal Holbrook's year! First the Golden Globes & Oscars and now Henry's 2-thumbs up! Love it!JulesHouse of Jules

March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjules
This is almost as fun as family movie night with 3 teenagers of mixed gender. By the time you leave Blockbuster you'd prefer to just abandom them in their respective aisles and go to a bar instead!
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJenn @ Juggling Life
Um, then you need Danny Kaye, like Court Jester or Inspector General, for your next forcing-the-issue night. Oh, such awesomeness. It's like if Errol Flynn is the Bruce Lee of the medieval movie, D.K. in Court Jester is the Jackie Chan.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commentereffective nancy
Best prize ever to a 5-year-old: a Lego guy that no one else can play with.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterS-Way
I'm hoping it's not the claymation Life and Adventures of Santa Claus that's tormenting you, because I love that thing.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkeli
Nope, this was animation. No clay involved.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteralice
We've had almost the exact same Family Movie Night experience this year! Only my daughter is 7 and her idea of a good Movie Night experience would be watching Harry Potter over and over and over until she gets nightmares.

We've partially resolved the choice issue by taking movie-choosing turns among the 3 of us (actually, we have a completely Byzantine system by which one person picks their top 3 and the other two agree on the movie of the week. Just for extra processing fun). That way I only have to watch Harry or the Olsen twins (in their younger days) every three weeks.

I also found a pretty good list of suggested movies from the Berkeley Parents' Network at . Most of them are available at the library, too, which is nice because in addition to being processing-happy we are extra cheap.

March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterelswhere
You are golden. A Lego guy? Geez.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterRee
I recently read that Hal Holbrook has a special helmet. Or maybe that was Hal Linden. Something about Barney Miller perhaps?
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngela
So funny. My seven year old girl does stuff like that too. I finally changed tactics. Feign total disinterest and mild distain. And even tell her she SHOULDN'T watch something. Works every time.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterall things bd
GREAT IDEA. You have no idea how tailor-made this is for us. My kid is obsessed with Robin Hood thanks to this cartoon movie we got from the Everything For a Dollar store. She would plotz at a real full length Robin Hood with actual swordfights. The length is an issue for now because when she gets obsessed with some story she has to watch the whole thing from start to finish. But I'm sure that won't be a problem when she is five. She'll be totally obedient when she is five. Right?
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterozma
1940's The Mark of Zorro with Tyrone Power. Kathryn and her mom could happily spend an entire Sunday with that movie on repeat play.The twins, upon seeing the case, make the same sound that I imagine Oedipus made just before he blinded himself. Kind of an "Eeewrrraaaaagggigh!" but more phlegmy.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterBrian
You entertain me. Quite well.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkristi
Thanks to your recent entries, I now remember that ,yes indeed, 5 is the hardest age! My oldest is 20. I don't really remember 5 being that bad with my daughter ( 0 to 2 years were horrible though) but it was definitely the hardest with both of my sons.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaurie
So that was the problem. We brought home the ANIMATED Disney Robin Hood and he refused to watch it (preferring to watch the animated Disney Sword in the Stone, again (and again)). Shoulda gone with Flynn.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbraine
Did you read that Wondertime article, too? About classic movies to watch with your kids? We rented "Singing in the Rain" (or is it "Singin'"?) this weekend, with great protests from my daughter. She thought it was great, even had us rewind a couple scenes to watch again. And we didn't have to watch a lame toy commercial disguised as a Barbie movie.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteramy
Awww! He gave you a lego! A lego guy with a helmet, for only you to play with. Wow, he must really like that movie. Maybe one needs a 5 year old boy of ones own to appreciate just how sweet that is, but I'd be ferklempt if mien gave me my own lego guy.

He may like Princess Bride if he's not seen it yet:)

I'm a mean mommy and only let mine watch anything on weekends, so I could pretty much hold anything I wanted in front of them and they'd dance up and down yelling, "Really? It's a show day? We get to watch a brand new show?" It's sort of sad and pathetic now that I think of it, but I like being the controlling benefactress.
March 3, 2008 | Unregistered Commentercarrien
If he liked Robin Hood, he might also approve of 'The Sea Hawk' and 'Captain Blood,' also starring Errol Flynn. Me love him long time...I own the box set of his swashbucklers.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPeggasus
Why do we have to subliminally keep convincing kids how much we love them? I am particularly fond of, "Nah-UH," in response to every suggestion made. Now THAT is a classic.

Maybe he'll just get more addicted to Robin Hood? I know, sorry. Wishful thinking.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarah R
This made me snort coffee out of my nose! Henry cracks me up : )
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterErica
It is so nice to know, even though my children are grown, that the things they did seem to be the norm. I also was amazed at the sheer resistance to my being right about anything. They get over this, I promise... or if they don't, then at least the crying and whining stop... for the most part... once they are 20.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterLaura
We've started introducing out children to the classics as well. We started with Jaws.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterTootsie Farklepants
We started movie night a couple of months ago. Now, movie night has multiplied into movie night 3 nighst a week! And, yes, the boy picks all the movies we watch. Yawn.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichele

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