The screen time that’s worth sharing with the next generation

Being a working mama means that the hours between getting home and bedtime are short and concentrated. Face-to-face interactions are maximized and concentrated, dinner is cooked and eaten, books read, and several laps around the kitchen are all in order to fill that narrow space. So those rare Friday nights when we all relaxed are coveted by all.  The kids’ birthdays are coming up in a week and we anticipated having several family visitors this weekend – but unfortunately the warm winter’s joy (i.e. illness) prevented our meeting. But the flipside was less preparation for all of us and a phone call to the local pizzeria for some nice pie!

After a tiny but decadent dose of pre-dinner chocolate we all dove in on the pizza, with a side of salad for good measure, sat, chatted, giggled, and ate cheese and crackers, while little L and his Naniji played several games of “pop-up” — a generic version of the game “Trouble” (Parcheesi).  Naniji got all the sixes and L none, so the victories were a bit one-sided to say the least.  Little R was true to form — refusing to sit in her booster seat and instead getting into daddy’s dinner chair with the handles. In that chair, up and down she climbed, asking “Yes?” as she stood up. . .  No, R. Then came the singing of Jingle Bells. She sang one line, I the next, and on we went as we traded the strangest facial expressions. Sigh and love and joy.

The piece de resistance prior to R’s bedtime brought into play T and my family’s movie pastime of childhood, which also happens to dovetail with our daughter’s obsession with the song “So Long, Farewell,” to which she affectionately refers as “Cuckoo.”

Yes, we watched The Sound of Music.

There are some screens that are totally worth it, that not only take you back but also bring your family together into new versions of that history and take your kids into your childhood. Then when they’re the Sound of Music they take you even further back into history and remind you that history happened not so long ago and so many things from then still resonate now.

I still remember the coo of my little brother singing “Edelweiss” with a lilt and a squeak (only to hear my daughter singing it similarly just a few months ago).  Our utter joy watching the Lonely Goatherd.  The way my family members have adopted the songs, sung them together, gone on pilgrimage to Salzburg, sat in utter silence as we watched Christopher Plummer and Julie Andrews work their magic. Ah the lighting, the glorious lighting, camera angles, beauty of the faces, frames. So familiar and loved.

We started the movie experience tonight with a jump ahead to “So Long, Farewell” — I wanted R to see it before I took her up to sleep. She was bouncing the whole time. Oh the glory of seeing my daughter see the kids sing “cuckoo” in person — she watched gleefully and started to join into the music, moving her hands and waving goodbye along with them. I simply can’t believe she’s going to be 2 in just a few days.

After that, Little L, my husband, and our au pair (who had never before seen The Sound of Music) went back to start the beginning of the movie. I spent this time upstairs singing “So Long, Farewell” to Little R and reading “Brown Bear” and falling asleep myself. L came up after intermission, intent to see the rest of the movie, but immediately fell asleep.

When I was growing up I never made it past the wedding scene. I just watched till then and thought the movie ended there. Didn’t quite get the bit about them wandering through the mountains.  I’m wondering how far we’ll go with the movie with Little L and if we’ll make it through all the historical parts we can teach him.  But I can’t wait to bring other parts of my musical theatre-obsessed childhood into the picture. We’ve watched Mary Poppins but in the pre-comprehension state. Interested in reintroducing it.  And My Fair Lady. Hello Dolly. Oh my, so many fun times lay ahead of us!