When contemplating parenthood, I overlooked an exciting perk that would accompany the arrival of these sponge-like beings who are eager to absorb just about everything their senses encounter: I was able to become completely and shamelessly immersed in the wonderful world of children’s entertainment. My re-introduction to kids’ books, movies and music has been a secretly (I guess until now!) cathartic experience.
In my grown-up opinion, children’s entertainment offers a refreshing break from typical adult choices that are rarely fun and uplifting, but far too often involve some sort of devastating circumstances. I can only bear so many songs and movies about heartbreak and an endless list of losses – loss of love, loss of job, loss of dog….
When I choose a movie, I have a simple requirement: I don’t want to cry.
I figure there is enough sorrow in the real world, so why include pretend, heart wrenching stories in my leisure time? I’ll never understand the desire to seek out an opportunity to feel sad enough to have what some refer to as a “good cry.” Is there really such thing as a “good” cry?
On a recent rainy Sunday afternoon, my family went to see Shrek the Third.
My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, and not in that pretend we’re-enjoying-it-for-the-sake-of-the-kids sort of a way. We’ve been true fans since Shrek’s debut.
I almost forgot; our 11 and eight year old children enjoyed it, too.
We all laughed out loud; kids only in some spots, adults only in some spots, and all four of us, in many spots.
Later, when discussing the movie with parents and their kids (or kids and their parents) the analysis was clearly from different points of view.
Typically, the reviews went something like this:
Adults: (matter-of-factly) Well, I certainly enjoyed it, but the “Shrek” mold of humour is beginning to show its age, don’t you think? (and then a little less matter-of-factly) But I do love Puss ‘n boots; but I think the mice are my favourite.
Kids: (goofy and giggly) Did you see the part where the stuff came out of Shrek’s ear and he made it into a crayon? That was gross/awesome! Remember the first movie when he made a candle out of his ear wax?
And as Shrek gets us laughing, kids’ music would almost always lead to singing and dancing.
Before they were in school my kids received two CDs as gifts that became our “Family Favourites Of All Time” – a designation I am trying to maintain, with only limited success as the kids get older.
Although I don’t love the music, “Kids’ Dance Party” was the musical background to countless hours of family dance parties, which originally began as extra-energy burners when the kids needed an outlet. My husband and I participated, though we rarely (OK… never) had extra energy to burn. Although this CD is not played much anymore, I still fondly (?) recall the pounding dance beat and most of the lyrics.
The other favourite CD is “Suessical the Musical” which was a sing-along staple both in the family room, and in the car. The volume at which this was played and the degree of animated singing by the parents depended on a two things: the length of the drive and the mood of the children… which, of course, is directly related to the length of the drive.
And it’s no small wonder that any form of entertainment based on a Dr. Seuss creation would be a favourite. His prolific collection of stories is timeless, and his style is ingenious. His ability to blend such appealing, whimsical prose with simple yet, fundamental life’s lessons was brilliant.
He teaches about prejudice in the Star Bellied Sneetches, predicts a dangerous trend while lamenting the importance of conserving our valuable resources in The Lorax, and engages us in plain, silly fun in the Sleep Book – just try not to yawn while reading that one! (…and, I’m yawning now)
I enjoyed his books as a child, and I am delighted that they continue to be relevant and appealing to my own children. For so many reasons, I think they ought to be required reading… and not just for kids!
Just as you likely can’t avoid yawning during the Sleep Book, just try to stifle a smile when reading aloud, singing or dancing to many of the other “made-for-kids” books, movies and music. And regularly beginning or ending your day on a happy note can’t possibly be a bad thing.