Having our grandson Grady come to the farm for sleepovers is always a treat. At age four he is increasingly independent so I am able to get a few things done besides staring lovingly at him. He’s also a funny, inquisitive, articulate little kid. Not to put too fine a point on it, but let’s just say I’ve had deeper, more meaningful conversations with him than with some adults.
Grady loves to play in the sandbox, explore the gravel pit, and play with the farm toys and other assorted stuff I’ve acquired for him. Much of the play is active, outdoors, and unlike anything he can do at home on the acreage near Sherwood Park.
So I’m not worried about his increased interest in watching movies. It’s a hoot if we can stay in pyjamas, eat popcorn, and make a night (or morning) out of it. His attention span is now long enough: especially if I watch with him to offer editorial comments and explain the subtleties. If I ratchet up my reactions?to suspense, humour, or the air of the ridiculous?and over-act he gets more out of the experience. Because he’s a sensitive kid, sad or scary parts need special handling.
In the past, when we knew he was coming for an overnight or longer visit, I’d head into town to borrow a Cars movie-themed bed and an armload of kids? movies from my sister. Now Grady is content sleeping in his ?nest? on the living room floor. It’s surprising how a sports-themed quilt, a Batman pillowcase, and a coverlet can make a kid happy.
But there are only so many times can we watch my sister’s Toy Story 1, 2, and 3, so one day I bit the bullet and invested in a boatload of kids’ movies of our own. This was a big decision in a household that had just barely gotten rid of the old VHS tapes our twenty-something daughter watched years ago.
Luckily, I capitalized on Walmart’s anniversary sale when many of the movies were only five or ten dollars each. I did, however, spring the full-price for Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs.
Slowly, we’re watching our way through twenty-one titles. Just this morning we watched Robots. Even though I know a lot of technology is involved I can’t help but feel that animators are geniuses. The detail, sophistication, and speed are mind-blowing. I also love that screenwriters haven’t forgotten the adults. There is humour, innuendo, and a genuine message embedded in most of these movies. For example, through an excellent storyline and the vocal talents (and smooth moves) of stars like Robin Williams and Halle Berry we learn that ?everyone can shine no matter what they’re made of.? On our next viewing I’ll be sure to embed that line, that truth, into the sponge-like mind of a certain four year old.
In the meantime, I have a dilemma. Do I start secretly watching these movies on my own with the door locked and the curtains drawn? Or do I invite Grady over more often? Tough call, from where I sit.
Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.