One happy side effect of limiting your young child’s television consumption is that the poor starved thing is thrilled to watch anything at all. Tonight after putting the boy to bed (only 3 major head traumas today!), I announced to Harper that we were having movie night. She jumped out of her skin with excitement. LITERALLY. Okay, not literally. But she was pretty excited. “Really?” she kept saying. “REALLY?”
“Really,” I said. “You wait here while I make some popcorn.”
“POPCORN?” She was now rending her nightgown in her fists. “FOR US TO EAT?”
She’s never had popcorn before, but knows it’s a movie related thing and that movies are big kid things, so all of this was terribly thrilling. So thrilling that I was able to hustle past the flash and dazzle of the Netflix for Kids queue (“Is that Dora? Wait, go back, is that Angelina Ballerina??”) and select the quiet, dimly colored, Swedish cartoon “Linnea in Monet’s Garden.”
What followed was a very sweet and largely uneventful 30 minutes from the distant, pre-HD, mid-80s past. Linnea and her elderly neighbor Mr. Bloom love to look at Claude Monet’s paintings in books, so naturally they decide to fly to France and check out his garden in person. (Wait, what? I know, but whatever, you can’t have adventures with parents anyway, everyone knows that.) There are long, silent shots of paintings. Close-ups of gloppy impressionist lily pads. Photographs of peonies and poppies. And fancy special effects. By which I mean, still photos of Monet himself.
Harper was beside herself, cuddled up next to me, and occasionally throwing out a “Why does she love the bridge?” just because she can’t stop asking “Why”s. Mostly, she was really into the popcorn. And having the lights off. And doing a just me-and-her thing, because as much as we both really adore Ollie, his waking hours involve so much climbing and falling and crying and climbing and falling, we get tired. And I got to feel like maybe she’d learned a little bit about art history and appreciation.
After we wound down from all the excitement of the movie and Harper started getting ready for bed she sighed and said, “What a great day. I’m sorry you missed the puppets. Next time I’ll take you.” For our excellent babysitter had taken the kids to see the Swedish Marionettes in the park. (I know what you’re thinking — nice accidental Swedish theme to the day! If only I’d been thinking, obviously we would have visited Ikea to make it official.) And then, “We should eat popcorn more often.”
And a movie buff is born.