No Longer Afraid

When we got rid of cable in 2012 we began a new nightly routine with the family.  We would pick out one of our DVD’s to watch during dinner and in the evening.  We called it the family dinner movie.  Our supply of family friendly and kids movies seemed endless at the time, but after a year it felt to me like we were watching the same 6-7 movies over and over and over again.

So back in August, when school was just about to start I got the idea to have us watch all of our kids movies.  I keep them in alphabetical order in the case so why not just start with A and go on through Z.  Everyone got on board and we’ve been doing that ever since.  There have been times that one person or another was not very thrilled with our evening dinner movie choice…Brendan bemoaned all through our 5 Blue’s Clues disks, and Matt was mysteriously absent at dinner when Dora the Explorer came around, but for the most part everyone still loves our dinner movie.

Now that we’ve entered December we’ve gotten to the E, F, and G portion of the alphabet.  Last week we watched our one and only E movie, The Emperor’s New Groove which is truly one of our family’s all time favorites.  The next day we moved onto F, which is a letter that we don’t have many movies in and that we tend to skip over.  Of the three movies we own we had only gotten out one in the last year and even then only once or twice.  That movie was Flushed Away.

We had a very good reason for avoiding the other two movies, and now that they were upon us we weren’t sure how well this whole ABC order thing was going to work out.  I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned it before, but Brendan has always had a substantial fear of movies that show the parents (Matt would argue it’s just the mom) being killed, or leaving their baby behind.  It upsets him like nothing else I’ve ever experienced with him.  Well with a fear like that we’ve pretty much had to limit the amount of Disney movies that we watch in our house because, much as I love Disney, they pretty much do the whole orphaned kid thing to death.

First up in our list of F movies was Finding Nemo.  I believe we’ve gotten this one out just one other time.  As if the main premise of the movie weren’t bad enough with Nemo being kidnapped and his dad spending the whole movie searching for him, the very first scene shows his mom being eaten by a fish (shark?  barracuda?  I don’t know.  Big fish, pointy teeth).  That was enough for Brendan and since then we’ve put the movie away and let it collect dust.

We couldn’t exactly skip over it, the kids know our movie collection inside and out and they knew that Finding Nemo came next in line, so with a lot of hesitation we popped it into the player.  The scene unfolds, and I expect Brendan to start showing signs of agitation or stress, but he’s happily munching away at his dinner, totally engrossed in the movie.  At the end of the scene when we see Nemo’s father looking into the hole where all the little fishy eggs were and we see only little Nemo’s egg damaged but still there, Brendan looks up and asks, “What happened to his mom?”

Now I don’t like to lie to my kids but sometimes the truth isn’t the best thing for them.  We’ve gotten through some of our Disney movies that don’t make it quite so obvious that they killed off the parents by saying that we don’t know what happened.  They don’t explain it in the movie.  In those cases we let Brendan come to his own conclusion, which a lot of times is that the mom just got hurt or is still there but not on camera because this is the kid’s story.

With Nemo it’s kind of hard not to know what happened.  Big fish charging, and biting, next scene no mom or kids…  But obviously Brendan wasn’t quite getting that from the scene sooooooo….what happened?  I had just gotten the words, “Well they don’t tell us exactly what happened…” when Cameron piped up from across the table, “She got eaten Brendan, by the big shark.” Well.  That was blunt.  Brendan looked to Matt and I for confirmation, “Did she really?”  Yes buddy, she did.  I really thought at that point that he would start getting upset, but he just said, “Okay.” and turned back to his food.

Could it be that he’s finally maturing enough that he can separate what happens to cartoon characters from what’s happening in real life?  Or has he finally seen enough cartoon’s like this to realize that losing your parents (while sad and horrible) doesn’t have to mean the end of the world?  Maybe this was a one time fluke, or maybe he’s finally turned a corner.  We will just have to wait and see.

The other movie that we’ve somewhat avoided in our DVD collection (somewhat?  I’m pretty sure we’ve not actually watched the thing ever since we bought it) is The Fox and the Hound.  That is one of those movies that we bought because I loved it growing up and we got a good deal on it.  Matt either had not ever seen it or just didn’t care for it much (can’t remember which) so he wasn’t too keen on getting it out and watching it before we had kids.  And since we had kids we haven’t been sure at what point they’d be ready for it.

Because as I recalled it’s one of Disney’s darker films.  Let’s see, you’ve got a hunter who’s continually trying to shoot one of the two main characters throughout the movie, a dog who gets hit by a train, a savage fight with a grizzly bear, I mean what more could you ask for in a Disney film?  And of course right at the beginning of the film you have Tod’s mom killed by a hunter leaving poor Tod orphaned.

At almost 10 I figured Brendan (who has seen and handled all 8 Harry Potter films) could handle the dark nature of the film, for him it was the orphaning of the fox that I wasn’t sure about.  For the other kids I figured they’d be scared out of their wits by one scene or another in the film.  Those two get scared at the oddest of places in movies.  Kaylee doesn’t like the giant robot thingy that attacks in Monsters vs. Aliens and Cameron gets scared by some of the different monsters in Monster’s Inc.

We decided to try it anyway, and believe it or not all three kids made it through the movie unscathed, and better yet I’m pretty sure they really enjoyed the film.  The most amusing thing for Matt and I during the movie was the discussion we had about hunting dogs.  Brendan had some questions about why the dogs were doing some of the things they were doing and we were explaining that they were bred and trained to hunt.

After a couple of minutes a light bulb went off in his head and he exclaimed, “Oh!  You mean like seeing-eye dogs?”  To which we replied yes, it was just like that.  Seeing-eye dogs were trained to help blind people, and hunting dogs were trained to help hunters.  After a brief interlude of thoughtful chewing, Brendan pipes up with one more question.  “If seeing-eye dogs help blind people, I wonder what they call dogs who help out deaf people.”

The image that sprang to my mind of a dog being trained to help sign for a deaf person was so amusing I couldn’t help but laugh.  Though thinking back I don’t think we remembered to explain to Brendan that deaf people don’t have dogs helping them like a blind person would.  Oh well, there’s always next time.

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