We've completed our obligations to the Nashvillians, with one exception, which we'll take care of on our way out tomorrow morning. Yes, we're heading home a day early. I do not enjoy the sensation of my control over the kids eroding, bit by bit by bit, but this is what happens in a vacation situation. Any two-year-old worth her salt will realize that she's got her parents over a barrel. She can demand anything -- DVDs every time she gets in the car, the TV on in her room at nap- and bedtime, to be carried every step of every outing -- and there's very little the parents can do about it. They can't follow through like at home, where I guarantee you she'd be left to scream her lungs out in her room all night if she persisted in her obstinance -- because there are other people living here, who deserve relative peace from non-stop wailing. So all the boundaries drop, one by one, and by the time we're on night three and she's whining "I want a video" as we tuck her in at night, you start to think that this can't go on, because you're out of secret weapons. The next step is providing her with a half-gallon of ice cream and a plastic spoon at naptime. Not being willing to go that far, we are going home, where the kids know what's what.
But not before we took advantage of the grandparents' willingness to reassure any small fry who might happen to wake up confused in the mid-evening, and went to see the surprisingly non-obligatory-feeling Simpsons Movie. Our sellout crowd at the Regal Cinemas Green Hills was loving it, and there were more belly laughs from my left -- Noel's seat -- than I've heard in a long time. I know that I'll be voting for the "doodle sequence" in the Skandies this year, and not just because that happens to be the male-part euphemism of choice in our household. (Also, by default, the female-part euphemism, because we have no imagination.) My hat is off to Brooks, Groening, Jean & Co. for a fitting big-screen capper to the Simpsons' legacy. And it's telling, isn't it, that all they had to do was string together three upper-tier TV episodes' worth of material -- heck, really just two -- to make it a shoo-in for one of the five funniest movies of the year. That's how good that show is, even in its long years of decline. I'm with Nathan on this one.