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How to Endure and Possibly Triumph Over the Adorable Tyrant
who Will Ruin Your Body, Destroy Your Life, Liquefy Your Brain,
and Finally Turn You
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Written by Alice Bradley and Eden Kennedy

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The trauma of Movie Night.

We decided that once a week we'd have a Movie Night. Actually I decided it. This was my stupid idea, conjured up in the name of family togetherness. I pictured Cuddling Under Blankets While Enjoying Popcorn and a Fun Movie. Usually it's more like Henry Watching Some Asinine Video He Insisted On While Scott and I Sleep on the Couch. Family togetherness!

If Henry figures out that there's a movie I want to rent, he will fight me to the death. Heaven forfend that he might get a whiff of the movie somehow being worthwhile. Or educational. He would rather rent the crappy movies from the library, like The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, starring Hal Holbrook (and Dixie Carter!), which we have rented approximately 30 times. He'd choose an instructional video on crocheting techniques, if it keeps me from renting one of those loathsome classics.

I didn't consult him this time. (I'm a slow learner, but I do eventually make progress.) I just went and done rented a movie without even getting his say-so. "Henry, I got us a fun movie," I told him on Saturday morning. Big mistake. What I should have said is, "Henry, I rented a movie that I can't stand, but oh well, I'll just sleep, no biggie." THEN his interest would be piqued. Why do I have such a perverse child?

"Noooo," he whined.

"You don't even know what it is, and you're saying no?" And I'm surprised for what reason, exactly?

"What is it." He glared at me.

"Robin Hood! [The 1938 version, if you must know.] It's got cool sword fights and—"

Oh, but he was already on the ground, wailing. Actual tears fell upon the area rug.

"I don’t even like sword fights," he screamed.

My god, what kind of a monster am I? Forcing my child to witness such a spectacle?

"If you don't like the movie, you don't have to watch it. It's a movie."

He thought about this. "Okay, so if I don't like it, you'll turn it off and we can watch something else. "

"Noooo. If you don't like it you can get up and do something else while we watch."

He threw himself back down to the ground. Not to be able to turn it off halfway through! The agony! I pictured Henry at a movie theatre, standing up on his seat. "ATTENTION. I AM NOT ENJOYING THIS MOVIE. PLEASE PUT ON ANOTHER ONE. PREFERABLY THAT ONE WITH HAL HOLBROOK."

Fast forward to Sunday night. After announcing that he wouldn't watch it, well, maybe he would, but only for a minute; he guessed he could try watching it, maybe, but if he didn't like it he didn't have to watch it, right? Right? We sat down to watch the movie.

Much to my non-surprise, he loved it. (Actually it looked as if he might hate it just to spite me, but his resolve weakened in the first five minutes of the film.) Parents of five-year-olds: rent Robin Hood. Even if your child fights you on it, even as he weeps and shrieks, know that he will love it. How could it miss? There's sword play! Quarterstaff fencing! Errol Flynn, laughing his lusty laugh, his arms akimbo! Makeout sessions with Maid Marian! Henry didn't even flinch at the necking. "They're going to be married," he observed. Yes, son, because once your lips fall onto another's, you are betrothed.

This morning Henry entered my bedroom with something behind his back. "I want to congratulate you," he said, "for picking the bestest movie ever. Here is your Lego guy." He handed the guy to me. "This Lego guy is for you only. No one else can play with it."

"Thanks, Henry. You know what would also be a nice reward? Maybe next time I pick out a movie, you'll trust me."

He looked at me. "Your Lego guy has a special helmet," he said, and ran from the room.

My prediction for next week's movie night: an unsung animated gem starring Hal Holbrook. You heard it here first.

Reader Comments (46)

"Your lego guy has a special helmet" !!! That made me laugh so hard =D
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersnowberrylane
A big hit in our house is Benji. he best thing about Benji is the total lack of dialogue, which means more napping for the adults and more imaginative interaction for my kids, who keep a running commentary of what is going on in Benji's little brain.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlizneust
um does anyone remember Born Free? Live lions, wilderness, orphaned Baby Lions, humans nursing Baby Lions back to health, true story. We watched it Every Time It Rained in elementary school. i'm hoping my daughter (now 17 mos) will dig it on future winter days when mommy is tearing her hair out.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermar-mar
Her own hair! Mommy is tearing her own hair out.Sorry for any confusion there. (nervous laugh)
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermar-mar
I just introduced my daughter to Annie, rendering her slack-jawed with the awesomeness of a dancing bald Albert Finney and singing orphans (C's comment - "was I ever an orphan?" hahaha)
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAnne
I don't think my five-year-old could use 'congratulate' in the correct context. Henry's verbal skillz blow me away sometimes.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPretty Lush
you have such a perfect voice for these posts. seriously, so funny (and I don't mean that in a I-just-spit-all-over-my-keyboard kind of way).
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterjdg
Alice, had to comment that your posts are totally reflective of what is going on in our house. I really tried to get the kids to cuddle up and enjoy ye olde Charlie Brown Christmas (took 2 years running to get them to sit still for that), and I have succombed to whatever Nickelodeon, Noggin and Disney Channel are hawking these days--my kids are the king and queen of suggestive sell. Needless to say, "Snow Buddies" and "Backyardigans" movies are on an endless loop on our movie nights.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterPatrick the mom
Our family movie night? Flushed Away, over and over again. The best part? How my daughter tells everyone her favorite movie is about a rat getting flushed down his POTTY, as if nothing could possibly be funnier. This goes over especially well when she is talking to one of those 'no TV in my house' moms. Because although they are against TV they tend to approve of potty talk.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbeth
Oh, the pressure is on you, girl. The next one better be equally good or you will lose the priviledge of that lego dude.

Isn't it nice to know we do get it right once in awhile?

Best of luck next week!
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterAngie
I'm going to have to try "Robin Hood." We had our first movie night a few weeks ago, but somehow neglected to notice that the only kids' movie we had in the house was "Shrek." The boy, who just turned 4, absolutely loved it and is now accompanied by an imaginary donkey and dragon everywhere he goes, and keeps pretending to read stories about "true love's first kiss."
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commentersophronia
All our movie nights lately go like this:

Kid: You can choose the movie tonight.Me: OK, let's watch this.Kid: No.Me: This one, then.Kid: No.Me: All right, I want to watch this one.Kid: No, not that one either.Me: Oh, I see. You're really only offering me the illusion of choice, aren't you?Kid: Let's watch Hairspray again.Me: Zzzzzzz.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterVanessa
I have found out the hard way (11 y/o twins and a nearly-13), after years of saying futile things like "all must agree" or "this time Ilsa gets to pick; next time Abel" etc, that it doesn't matter if they want to watch a movie or not. Just put one on. They will turn into little zombies and watch it, and then argue with you later about how much they hated it!
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered Commenteredj
I loved Errol Flynn when I was a kid. I wanted to buckle swashes along with him!

Next up: try Top Hat. One of my personal faves. My 6.75 year old loves it as well as Singing In the Rain.

The middle part of SITR, thiough, where it goes all technicolor and dream-sequence-y? Clearly the writers were smokin' somethin' when they worked on it and gave some to the editors to let them leave it in.

Other than that, I love it.
March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHatchet
oh, he's going to be fantastic during his first date at the movies.

March 4, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSarcomical
I don't have anything to add to the conversation, but I wanted to say that I loved this post!
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterSonja
Reminds me of our "music nights" where we would pick music we liked from the internet radio thingie (like Sirius, only not) and we'd all sit and listen. Which lasted only as long as we didn't play anything WE liked. As long as it was all rap, all hip hop, all the time, we had a "night." When that changed, we were two old fogies listening to John Denver songs. Alone.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterCandy
Dear Lord. We have the same child. I was given a "special" lego guy last night for making unsolicited brownies....

thanks for the movie revue - we'll try it this weekend!
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterpharmgirl
I was surprised to find that my son absolutely loved "Pirates of Penzance" (the best version, with Kevin Kline, is apparently not available on DVD yet). He would watch it over and over again, acting out many parts.
March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDiane
Dearest Alice,Ignoring all that educational, Mark Twain bullshit, some other classic Holbrook fare Henry might enjoy:

• Magnum Force• Murder by Natural Causes ( a made for TV thriller FULL OF TWISTS)• All the President’s Men (hopefully he wont ask for an explanation of Deep Throat)• Rusty: A Dog’s Tale• Creep Show (with bitch on wheels wife, Adrienne Barbeau. MrrooW!)

Siskely yours,Joe

March 5, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterHeyJoe
Another great technique, I say to my 8-year-old, "oh, shoot, I didn't realize when I rented this it's for older kids.""Pleeeeeeaaaaase, can I watch it. I'm old enough."BTW, he LOVED Saving Private Ryan. (kidding).
March 10, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGray Matter Matters

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