Friday Night Movie Night has become a much anticipated event in our house. About 18 months ago we ‘turned off’ the TV for weekday viewing. This was one of the best parenting decisions we have made.
Why no weekday TV?
Firstly, I was well and truly over the pleas for ‘just one more show’…the protests when asked to turn off the television, and the subsequent tantrums. One day enough was enough, the easiest way to stop all of the above is to not turn on the TV in the first place. So off it went and it never went back on. The boys don’t ask for it, they have more time for other play and I have one less tantrum to handle.
Then came movie night…
This year we decided to add movie night to our schedule. We have a treat of dinner while watching our movie, snuggled up on the couch. It always amazes me that many choices of seating the boys are always cuddled up together under a blanket. So sweet.
I prefer movies over kids TV shows because having a longer duration they tell a story with plenty of detail and time for exploration of character, location and plot. Mr Me has the attention span to watch a movie through, Me Too will sometimes depending on the movie, Me Now usually lasts 20 minutes or so before looking for food or going off to play. All age appropriate.
We have watched all of the popular Disney movies plus a few others on recommendation but the last few weeks we have struggled to find decent kids movies worth watching. Today we decided on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. We were going to watch it last week before realising it goes for 2 1/2 hours, so today we started early!
2 hours in and all 3 boys were seated exactly where they started, no one had moved! This movie had their full attention and interest. Mr Me added many insightful comments about the “Olden Days” which they are focussing on at school (that phrase always interested me…it can span any time from when man was first on the earth to when Mum and Dad were children!). Me Too laughed at every joke. Me Now was captured by the music and people, especially children I would think.
So what is it that an ‘old fashioned’ movie has over the modern day cartoons, complete with their dazzling colours and impressive graphics? In my opinion, the answer is people. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has ‘real’ people, children who aren’t dissimilar to themselves and a creative storyline with catchy music. Cartoons and children’s television is often criticised for being too fast paced, the images change every few seconds and the bright colours and changes stimulate children and remove the focus from the story. Yes they are fun, but I think they have a very limited place in children’s lives. Our boys have a choice on Sunday mornings to watch ‘their shows’ for an hour which we consider to be children’s entertainment. Any other viewing over the weekend consists of sport with Dad or reality shows such as Cake Boss or How is it Made which we watch together and create opportunities for discussion.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has something that Disney lacks…something that can catch the attention of young boys for 2 1/2 hours, which stimulates their imagination, leaves 3 and 6 year olds thinking about and discussing what they are going to invent (make) in the shed over the weekend, all of us dancing spontaneously together and tapping to the beat…all of this with muted colours and a simple storyline. Mr Me has learnt My Favourite Thing and other songs from musicals at school…these songs are always a first pick for choir and the kids love them, so it makes sense that they would enjoy the movies they are in.
It was a joy to watch them all enjoying something so simple, artistic and which I could also enjoy. Something we could all enjoy together. Annie..Oliver…Mary Poppins…I have a long list now to enjoy with the boys and I can look forward to movie night again!