Monday, July 4, 2016

Parenthood: Week 159 - Going To The Movies

Ollie went to the movie theater for the first time to watch Finding Dory. We had tried to watch Finding Nemo with Ollie a couple months ago, but he really wasn’t interested. Then he watched this film at school with his class and he came home very excited about the film. His favorite character was the stingray, Mr. Ray. It took us a couple days to decipher his singing as the song that Mr. Ray uses to teacher about the different zones in the ocean. We like to think that Ollie likes Mr. Ray because he’s a teacher just like mommy and daddy, but it’s probably because of the way that he sings flies through the water.

The day before we went, we told Ollie that we were going to go see Finding Dory, which was going to be like Finding Nemo. We explained to Ollie that we were going to go “tomorrow.” Ollie then spent the remainder of the day trying to figure what “tomorrow” meant. An hour would pass and he would ask if it was tomorrow yet. Eventually he understood that tomorrow was going to be when he woke up the following morning. This worked out fine until the next morning when we had to explain that we were going to go to the movie in a couple hours, which initially didn’t make sense to Ollie.

We talked about how the movie theater was going to be dark, which in Ollie’s head meant that it was nighttime.  We explained what Ollie could do if he felt scared and that if he need to go to the bathroom or wanted to leave early, he could ask us at any time. We also went over how he needed to be quiet during the movie.

Ollie did really well in the movie theater. He got annoyed and impatient with the half an hour of movie trailers before the film (which annoyed us as well). For the first part of the film, Ollie stayed in his own seat and then later switched to Diana’s lap. Finding Dory wasn’t a bad film for Ollie to watch, but it wasn’t perfect. It was a little bit too long and a little bit too dark. For the last half hour, Ollie repeatedly told us that he would rather watch Finding Nemo.

There are more reasons not to go to a movie theater than to simply stay home and watch a movie in our family room, especially with a toddler. Movie theaters are expensive. It’s better to watch movies in smaller chunks for Ollie (and us).  And we really should preview films before watching them with Ollie, which is both time-consuming and costly.

However it’s undeniable that there is magic in a movie theater and I saw that in Ollie’s eyes looking up at the screen with wonder as the film took us through the ocean. I loved going to the theater as a kid and I look forward to sharing more movie-going experiences with my son.

A couple tips for the toddler film experiences:
- Bring snacks and/or buy popcorn.
- Grab a cardboard drink tray to use as a plate
- Skip the movie trailers if possible.
- Go during a matinee time.  Less movie goers to disturb and it's cheaper.
- Talk over the experience and the film beforehand.
- Be prepared to help your kid unpack the experience and the film afterwards.  Conversations about the movie theater (that may seem repetitive) are important in the processing the experience.

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