I Know All the Moves to “Rock-A-Bye-A-Bear”, Do You?

We took my son to see his favorite movie, The Polar Express, in 3D at the IMAX theater this week. He gasped and smiled in delight as he tried to reach out and touch the snowflakes that seemed to be falling in our laps. He exclaimed, “Wow,” as the huge train appeared to come to a stop just inches from where we were sitting. He was on the edge of his seat through a lot of the film. It was such a delight to watch him enjoy the movie so much. I remember from my own childhood how experiences like that when you’re a kid seem almost magical.

The Polar Express is not on the list of my all time favorite Christmas movies. And my tolerance for the flick has been lessened even more by having watched it over and over, even on the Fourth of July, with my son. But the minute I saw the movie advertisement for the IMAX version, I knew we had to take him to see it. I was the one who made the plans for us to go. My husband offered to take him without me, to spare me from viewing the film for the millionth time, but I wanted to go. I knew my son would have the time of his life, and I wanted to be there to share in the joy. Sitting there in that theater, seeing the enthralled look on my son’s face, I did have a good time.

That’s why I was so bothered by an article I read recently in a parenting magazine about a new philosophy that says you shouldn’t have to drastically change your lifestyle to fit around your children, rather you should fit them into your life. It talked about how today’s parents are learning that rather than cater to their children’s interests, they should make their children interested in adult things. It said if you like to listen to the Beatles, go ahead. Your kid can listen to the Beatles too, and you won’t have to listen to hours of mindless lyrics from the Wiggles. Watch the 24 hour news channel all day if like, don’t put cartoons on just because little Johnny would rather watch SpongeBob. If you like stark modern furniture, don’t go all cozy just for the kid’s sake. Decorate the nursery in a minimalist style, and buy only toys that are aesthetically pleasing and match the color scheme of your home.

I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Were they serious? Basically, because we as adults my find some childish things to be slightly annoying, we should deny our kids all the trappings of childhood and set them up with an adult lifestyle from the get-go. How terrible. Isn’t that what being a kid is all about? The freedom to be inexcusably silly and never serious. The freedom to sing badly, at the top of your lungs, songs about school bus wheels and monkeys jumping on the bed. The freedom to watch movies, TV shows and read books just for the sake of being entertained. The freedom to hang pictures of your favorite Disney character on the wall next to your bed clad in a Blues Clues sheets? If not as a kid, when? 

I for one am not about to take the pleasures of being a child away from my son just because sometimes they’re a little irritating from my adult perspective. In fact some of the times I cherish most with my son are those days when he shows me from his vantage point, a view of the world that I haven’t seen in years. I am reminded of the simplicity and purity of childhood, and at times long to return to it, if only for a brief instant. I’m only going to have him around for 15 more years. I’ve all ready lived 29 years before he was born doing what I pleased, and I’ll have several decades, God willing, after he’s grown, to go back to doing what I please. Is it really too much to ask that for this little while I throw myself completely into his life and change the radio station from the Best of the 90’s to XM Kids? It that too great a price to pay for an investment in my own son’s life? I don’t think so.

I have several Wiggles’ songs memorized. I can even do the choreography. I know the names of all the characters on SpongeBob. If you have time, I can dissect the finer literary points of Seuss with you over coffee. And yes, I could give you a frame, by frame verbal re-play of the Polar Express. These are the things that make up the life of my almost three-year-old son, and I am so glad to be a part of it, MatchBox cars and all.

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One Response to “I Know All the Moves to “Rock-A-Bye-A-Bear”, Do You?”

  1. Krista Says:

    Hey Colleen,

    Great post again. I love to read what you write about. I know all the words to Rock A Bye A Bear. Too bad we don’t live closer. We could sing it together. 🙂

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