The Magic of the Movies

Amy Rees
April 24, 2016

The movies. It's the definite article that distinguishes it from the everyday.

The movies, even in your local multiplex, is old Hollywood. A whole different universe from the in-the-den variety of viewing. Your little one may lobby regularly to watch a movie (though he may call it a video, out of anachronistic charm, or a DVD), but until you've taken him to "the movies," he hasn't seen a thing.

The movies means the theater. The movies means magic.

There are, of course, good reasons a-plenty to put off your child's first cinema excursion. Kids get way too much screen time already, and they will flatten their minds in front of aeons more before college. Movies are loud and dark—not exactly little kid paradise. The previews are often quite inappropriate, even for a sweet G-rated movie that you researched ahead of time on Common Sense Media. Even the shortest kid movies stretch longer than most little ones' attention spans, not to mention sitting still spans. Ticket prices even at matinees are spendy for families, especially if you pro-rate by the number of minutes you actually see or hear while not tending to a restless child.

But we implore you: don't let any of that stop you. The delight of taking your child to the movies—the right movie, for the right-aged child, on the right day, for the right treat—is one you'll both savor forever.

You get to buy tickets, duck into the darkened theater, and pick your seats. Your child climbs into her seat—then promptly folds right up because she doesn't weigh enough to hold it down. You both crack up.

You toss a jacket on your seats to save them and head to the concession stand. Yes, it's all outrageously expensive, and yes, it's all junk. But it's a rite of passage to get a tub of popcorn and have it disappear before the feature runs. There's nothing local or organic in Red Vines or Raisinets, but you should still give them a whirl. Once or twice.

You ask him for the twelfth time if he has to go to the bathroom before it starts. He says no, and you know it's not true. Still you sit down together, settling in with a smile, giggling as you both reach into the popcorn at the same time. No first date was ever sweeter.

The insipid movie facts slideshow stops, the theater darkens, the previews start. Then she admits that she does have to go to the bathroom, and you race out and blink your way back just as the features is underway. His face is illuminated by the screen, and you can't believe how much fun this is. Neither can he.

From the Parents

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