The other day I took a six-year-old to a movie.
It’s been a long time since I took a six-year-old to a movie. Since my youngest child is now twelve, I’m guessing that’s it’s been at least six years. Which means that there were things I had clearly forgotten about. For one, I had forgotten that when you take a six-year-old to a movie you are essentially hand-cuffed to that six-year-old. They need to pee, you get up to go to the bathroom. They drop their straw and need another one, you both get up and go back to concessions. They get restless and fidgety, you get restless and fidgety trying to calm them down.
And then there’s the narration. Six-year-olds should come with *SPOILER ALERT* stamped on their foreheads, because if they know what is going to happen, then soon you (and everyone around you) will know it, too. This isn’t really a problem for the surrounding adults; after all, if you have reached the age of majority and still can be surprised by the plot twists in a Disney film then you probably are dealing with bigger issues than spoilers. Issues like wondering how long until that Nigerian prince gets back to you with your seven million dollars.
It is, however, a problem for other six-year-olds, and that’s why I attempted to keep all impromptu reveals from my accompanying six-year-old as sotto voco as possible. Which means there was a lot of shushing on my part.
Unfortunately, there was also a lot of shushing on the part of the also accompanying seventeen-year-old, which meant that our corner of the theater soon began to sound like it was filled with pit vipers. The only thing is that the seventeen-year-old wasn’t shushing the six-year-old—she was shushing me. Which was ridiculous, because I wasn’t the one narrating the film. I was just commenting on it. There’s a difference. At least, I think there is.
It all started with the opening cartoon, a “retro” short that combined stalking, abduction and psychological torture with a little impaling, crushing and garroting. Basically, it was an animated snuff film. And yeah, I know that it was no different than the Tom and Jerry or Roadrunner cartoons of my youth, but there was something about it that bothered my adult sensibilities in a way those cartoons never did before. And so I leaned over the six-year-old to say as much to the seventeen-year-old (who just happened to be my) daughter, Clementine.
“Geez, it’s like the Disney version of Saw,” I said. “It’s freaking torture porn.”
“Mom! Shhhh! What is wrong with you?”
“What? I’m just saying.”
That’s when the six-year-old spoke up. Loudly. “It’s okay. They’re not really hurt.”
“Shh!” I said. “And are you crazy? He was just stabbed with a pitchfork. Twice.”
“Shh!” Clementine said.
“What? They’ve done everything but waterboard that poor cat.”
“I like water,” said the six-year-old. “All the water freezes in the movie.”
“Shh!” hissed both the seventeen-year-old and I at the same time.
Like I said, it’s been a long time since I took a six-year-old to a movie. And it will probably be another long time until I do it again. But it might be an even longer time until the seventeen-year-old goes back to a movie with either one of us.