I’ve noticed a disturbing trend with my two young boys recently: they seem to be turning into their own people. People with tastes, opinions, and ideas about things. And those ideas include how they entertain themselves. And it’s getting annoying.
I find myself longing for those pre-school days when you could buy a ticket to see a show put on by grown people who probably had stage and performance dreams that did not include slipping on a giant foam rubber head and dancing around under the primary-coloured flood lights. (I am sensitive about those who toil in the foam suits, as I have mentioned before). Entertainment for the whole family was as simple as occasionally feeling charitable and saying “Hey boys, the ___ show is in town and I bought tickets!” “Hooray!” they would shout, entertained as much by the bucket of popcorn as whatever was happening on stage.
Of course, many things billed as “family entertainment” actually mean “About As Much As An Adult Can Stand And Timed For Preschool Attention Spans” so it never really is for the whole family. The trade-off is that I have been the arbiter of when we absorb these experiences (infrequently) and the kids enthusiastically accepted them (because salty popcorn and the novelty of public washrooms). I also may have enjoyed Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular more than anyone in the family.
Now, though, the tables are turning. My boys are eight and four and the youngest is quite easily influenced by the tastes of the eldest, leading to…requests. To see horrible-looking movies. At full price, first run, in the theatre, so as to keep them abreast of important cultural moments with their peers, who are talking about these same movies. We haven’t gotten to concerts yet (my praise, by the way, to the Imagination Movers for doing children’s concerts that actually are enjoyed by the whole family, we buy tickets every time they show up anywhere near our city.) But it’s coming: the day when at least one son wants to lay out $100 to see some act that I have:
A) never heard of or
B) disapprove of or
C) don’t think deserves 100 cents never mind $100.
And forget trying to land on a radio station or choose any music for the car. Everyone likes/hates whatever is on and the din from the back seat drowns out whatever comes from the speakers, though the boys know now that if they don’t agree, they will be punished with Aerosmith.
Like so many of the stages of childhood, I wasn’t quite ready for the “choose your own adventure” of what they want to do or see, but I am comforted by the wise words of YMC’s own Jeni Marinucci about what the future holds for us:
“I make them buy their own concert tickets.”