I don’t like to think of myself as dramatic, but every once in awhile a scene like the one described below occurs and I have to humbly accept my imaginary Oscar for best dramatic performance in a domestic situation.
Son: Hey mom, can we watch “Lord of the Rings”?
Me: (dropping everything in my hands) I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR THIS MOMENT SINCE YOU WERE BORN.
Son: Mom, are you ok?
Me: (grabbing special edition extended DVD boxed set) Sit down and prepare not to do anything for the next 13 hours!
Son: Can I go to the bathroom?
I’m kidding, of course. I let him go to the bathroom.
The point is, we really are living in a magical time. A time where technology makes it possible for us to share everything we’ve ever loved and obsessed over with our children. EVERYTHING. Most of it at the click of a button. Even more amazing is that it’s something we already take for granted even though this instant nostalgia wasn’t around even a mere generation ago.
I have no idea what my mom’s favorite TV show was when she was growing up. This is mostly because as her child I was genetically inclined to think everything she liked was dumb and therefore of no interest to me. But also she had very few outlets to share these things with me. Reruns and VHS tapes were pretty much it and that was only if some balding, cigar-chomping, TV executive (I’m just assuming they were all like that in the ‘80’s) decided they were worthy of reruns and/or VHS immortality.
Meanwhile, my children have seen my favorite childhood TV show, “David the Gnome,” so many times they could write a passable doctoral thesis on it in multiple crayon colors. (Alas, my favorite childhood movie, “The Neverending Story,” didn’t go over as well because us ‘80’s kids were built of stronger stuff and didn’t get hysterical every time a beloved horse character committed suicide via swamp quicksand).
It’s not just movies and TV shows either. Thanks to the Nintendo Classic Edition, my kids and I have spent hours playing Mario Bros. together, side by side, just like I used to do with my cousins. The only difference now is that I’m finally the best player and my generic Mountain Dew has been replaced by generic Merlot.
I’m basically getting to relive the best parts of my pop culture past while bringing my kids along for the ride. This is an extraordinary power and like all extraordinary powers, it’s super fun to abuse!
Take, for example, the fact I’ve been trying to force the Harry Potter books onto my firstborn for years. Pretty much once a week we have some version of the following conversation:
Me: You ready yet?
Son: For what?
Me: (in bad British accent) ‘arry Potter!
Me: How about now?
Son: Please stop, mom.
Me: Accio Interest!
And THEN, after buying multiple Harry Potter Lego sets and T-shirts and light up wands and a sorting hat and discreetly playing the movies in the background and leaving the books scattered all over his room, my son brought home a worksheet from kindergarten and under the question “What is the title of a book you want to read?” he wrote “Hrry Pottr Nubrw 2.”*
Did I trick him into wanting to read the books? Did I gaslight my own child? Did I grift my own flesh and blood?
It’s just, my kids have the WORST taste in entertainment. It’s all “Little Einsteins” and “Paw Patrol” and “Muppet Babies” but not the awesome old “Muppet Babies,” the new ones with the weird penguin.
They don’t even like the good Disney movies. All the Disney movies ever made right there at their fingertips and they keep requesting “Sleeping Beauty,” the one where the princess is worthless and does nothing and has one job, not to touch a spindle, but what does she do? She touches a spindle because she’s human garbage.
So, while I would never dictate what my children can and cannot like, because that would be wrong,** all I’m saying is that while they are still too little to figure out our three remotes and the convoluted sequence of magic buttons you have to hit in order to make them obey your every command, I’m merely going to gently guide them in the right direction.
The right direction, of course, being “The Goonies.”
*First, so cute, right? Second, I have no idea why he wants to start with the second book in the series but gaslighters can’t be choosers.
**Right? It would be wrong? Or…no, no, it’s wrong.