Friday, May 29, 2009


We've divided up our parenting duties rather stereotypically. Noel and Archer are a pair, and Cady Gray and I are joined at the hip. I don't know that it's simple dad-son/mother-daughter XY/XX reasoning. Probably it's more because Cady Gray has had a more standard development in her attachment, and therefore she tends to latch on to the parent who's not the primary caregiver, whenever that parent is home. And that happens to be me.

So Noel started a tradition this year of taking Cady Gray to kids' movies as a special treat, something they could do together. (The equivalent special treat that Archer requested? Going to "mom's school" and looking at room numbers in as many buildings as possible.) But when he got the chance to see Up at a critics' screening a couple of weeks ago, the organizers told him that he couldn't bring a child along. So the two have been separated for this particular kid-friendly film.

Which means that Mom gets to step in for the special movie outing. And I can't decide whether this is wonderful and exciting, as Cady Gray thinks it is (with typical little girl hyperbole, she declares this "the best weekend EVER!"), because it's the summer film I'm most looking forward to and I get to share it with her -- or whether it's unfortunate because I won't get to enjoy the film free of listening to her chatter, taking her to the bathroom in the middle of the best part, and enduring the inevitable weariness when she's ready for the movie to be over but there's still half an hour to go.

I'm an unabashed Pixar enthusiast. Someday I need to do a whole semester where I show the whole Pixar catalog so we can all talk about what makes these movies extraordinary: the primacy of story and character over technique, innovative technique in the service of story and character, poignant and deeply-felt themes, belief in animation as an artistic medium, erasure of the distinction between adult and child. My anticipation for Up, it's fair to say, is sky-high, encouraged by Noel's report of how he was affected at the earlier screening. And my anxiety comes from that anticipation -- I don't want anything in between me and the movie. I want to soak in it.

The truth is, though, that you can't always accomplish that when you go to the theater. Even if you're alone, the other patrons are there obscuring your view and getting up at the wrong moment and talking or texting -- or not there, sucking the energy out of what's supposed to be a communal experience. It is what it is, and you need to accept that if you're going to see movies in theaters, the way (for the time being) they were intended.

So I'll try to compartmentalize the two experiences I'm so looking forward to -- that might not peacefully co-exist in one event. There's the movie I want to succumb to and see every frame of. And there's the time spent with my daughter having a special mother-daughter outing. The second one can take priority tomorrow, because I'll have another chance at the first when the DVD comes out, if nothing else. Movies are forever, but four years and ten months old munching popcorn and sitting next to mom at the theater ... that only comes around once in a lifetime.

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