Carlos went to the movies for the first time tonight. Well, it was the first time he’s made it into the theater and watched an entire movie. I tried once before when he really wanted to see “Planes,” but the overwhelming noise from the previews scared the life out of him. Fifteen bucks for us to sit in the parking lot and eat popcorn that was still warm. Tonight, I brought along his magic headphones but braced myself for a meltdown nonetheless.
I scored an invite through work to a sneak preview of the new Carmike Ovation theater in Athens (they remodeled the old theater on Lexington Hwy). We planned to go as a family, but G ended up taking Vivi to OTHER theater on the far side of town…so yeah. It was just Carlos and me on the red carpet. If the reporters ask, he’s wearing a shirt by Superman, shorts from the Target $5 mix and match counter, and a pair of shark sandals that light up. Oh, and he’s got on Marvel Avengers underwear, the ones with Hulk on the butt.
Ovation features in-theater dining and nothing keeps my boy happily in his seat like a big ole plate of french fries and a tall glass of lemonade, delivered right to our seats during the movie. I got myself an $8 glass of wine (served in a lovely mini-carafe and stemless glass) and a plate of Greek feta fries. I’d tell you what was on them but we were eating in the dark. There was something lemony, something feta-ish, something aiolish, and a thinly sliced herb that was probably basil. Way better than popcorn. Each wide leather seat has a table, a light, and a cupholder. I sat on the edge of my seat, waiting for Carlos to lose it.
I leaned in close to whisper, “Do you need to go potty?” He shook his head, clamped in the grip of pink headphones. “Hold your drink with two hands, please.” He bent the straw down and nodded. His eyes never left the screen as a little bear who loved orange marmalade left the jungle of “darkest Peru” and made his way to London.
I first met Paddington Bear almost forty years ago, when my childhood friend Mollie got one straight from London when her dad flew there. Mollie had the most glamorous collection of toys–her dad was a Delta pilot so she had dolls from every country he visited. I remember her bringing Paddington to my house for sleepovers. In his blue coat with the wooden toggle buttons, and his slouchy red felt hat, Paddington was a toy from out in The Big Wide World that I had never seen.
Carlos finished his fries and let out a giant burp, then announced in that “I’m wearing headphones so I can’t tell that I’m speaking really loudly” way: “MOMMY! I BURPED!” We need to work on the whole whispering thing.
I quit worrying after that and sank into this new thing that I can enjoy with my son. He’s growing up. He’s getting used to the world. For so much of his short life, we’ve kept him sheltered from crowds and noises and craziness, because they made him so miserable. But hiding from the world isn’t any way to live. It turns out, this kid loves an adventure. Instead of sheltering him from the noiser parts of life, I’m learning ways to help him cope.
He wasn’t afraid of the wild chase scene or the explosion in the kitchen. He didn’t get concerned when Paddington ran away into the rainy wilderness of London (Vivi would have been in my lap sobbing by then). He didn’t flinch at the site of the taxidermy knives or get worried when Mr. Brown climbed out on a ledge during the rescue. (Should I have said Spoiler Alert? This movie is 6 months old.)
My son was so chill about his first movie that I actually got to relax and enjoy the story, too. In the climactic scene, Paddington tries to escape the evil lady by climbing up an incinerator chute. As he nears the top and his climbing mechanism fails, I squeaked and yipped along with the kids.
That’s when a little girl in the row behind us shouted in a comforting way, “HE’S NOT GOING TO FALL!” The entire theater giggled with relief.
She was right–Paddington didn’t fall. He found a family. And the family found their joy again. When the evil lady got her just desserts, Carlos turned to me with a smile and said, “She’s the bad guy!”
He’s not going to fall. My boy is going to fly. He’ll find his way in The Big Wide World.