Putting the "movie" in family movie night

family movie night

Thursday is family movie night in my house. The baby goes to bed, homework gets done early, dinner is usually something quick, and then the big kids and I sit flicking through the on-demand streaming service or ransacking the DVD cupboard for half an hour while they argue over whose turn it is to choose the movie, and how one wants to watch this movie but not that one, and the other one only wants to see the same movie we’ve already watched twice before.

Long ago I adopted the policy that they have to work it out themselves, and the more time they take deciding what movie to watch, the less time they’ll have to watch it — because the TV goes off at 7pm sharp, no matter where we are in the film. You’d think the impending cutoff would be an incentive to agree on a film faster, but you’d be wrong. My kids won’t even compromise under pressure.

I tried letting them take turns choosing each week, but the third time Master Six chose the Spongebob Squarepants movie, I realised that we’d be visiting that pineapple under the sea every other week until doomsday, so I had to come up with a new tactic. So now, each family movie night, each child has to give their first, second, third etc movie preference, and they go down the list until their choices match. Last week it was Miss 12’s eighth choice that finally agreed with Master Six’s sixth choice. By the time the movie was chosen I had already mentally said every swear word I know, and made up some new ones, while outwardly maintaining a serene and unruffled countenance. “Well done, darlings, let’s press play!” I chirped, internally grousing, “It’s about #$@&%*! time!”

As every parent knows, there are some children’s movies that you see once and then never want to lay eyes on again. In my house, a few DVDs have been “lost” over the years. When we subscribed to one of those on-demand streaming services, though, all the movies I never wanted to see ever, ever again were right there in front of me (and my kids), unable to be “lost” behind the sofa or in the donation box at the local op shop. I think if any on-demand streaming service offered the option for parents to “hide” certain films and shows they wanted their children to forget the existence of, they’d be even richer than they already are.

Last Thursday, Miss 12 was out at a school event for the evening, and it was just me and Master Six on the sofa for family movie night. He was in his pyjamas, teeth brushed, face freshly scrubbed, and I was looking forward to some one-on-one time spent just with him — a rare occurrence these days. “Do I get to choose the movie, Mum?” he asked, all bright-eyed and adorable. “Of course you do, my precious, sweet child,” I replied beatifically, my halo polished to a blinding glare. “What would you like to watch this week?”

“How about the Spongebob Squarepants movie?” he replied.

Me, internally: “#$@&%*!”

Katherine Granich

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