I’ve always loved movies, and getting to a point with my family where everyone in the house can watch the same movie has always been a fantasy. My husband has talked about sharing his favorite ’80s movies with our three daughters since the first time they sat in front of Caillou. “The whiny kid. Again?” I laughed and told him they weren’t ready.
When we hit the Jessie, iCarly and Santa Paws phase, he said it was time. “I’m going to introduce the girls to real movies, starting with Star Wars.” He waited for my response, which I think he thought would be unbridled enthusiasm.
“I don’t think they’re quite ready,” I said, struggling to remember the movies.
“What about The Goonies?” he offered.
I snorted, “No way, it won’t hold up.”
“Goonies? No, it’s a classic. They’ll love it!” he exclaimed before groaning “Baby Ruth” à la Sloth.
I shook myself and decided to go with the flow; sometimes you just have to let things happen. So we corralled the girls and explained that we were going to watch a movie from when mom and dad were kids.
Finley, my 6-year-old, was aghast. “You mean you had TVs for movies back then?”
“Very funny. Yes, your old man had a TV, and we watched movies. This one’s called The Goonies. Dad loved it. You will too.”
Our middle daughter looked at me and rolled her eyes dramatically.
As the movie began, the bubble letters of the title made them all say it aloud: Goonies. “What even is a goonie?” they asked.
“A goonie is someone who doesn’t fit in,” my husband explained.
“Were you a Goonie, Dad? Did you not fit in?” Finley asked, rubbing his shoulder sympathetically.
“No, I wasn’t a Goonie. Girls, just watch.” He was annoyed, but also endearingly excited about the movie.
I chortled into my sleeve as Josh Brolin filled the screen in his head-to-toe sweatsuit glory, complete with sweatband.
“Why is he dressed like that? Did he have surgery and regular clothes hurt him now?” Finley asked.
After about 30 minutes of polite watching, my husband grinned at me. “See? They like it. Right, girls? Girls, do you like it?”
They didn’t respond.
“It’s good, right?” my husband prodded hopefully.
Three sets of blue eyes looked at me and then back at him. “Actually, Dad, it isn’t very good. It’s kind of boring.”
“It’s OK girls,” I said. “Why don’t you go jump on the trampoline?”
“Sorry, Dad. We just…we like movies that aren’t from the olden days. But you can keep watching.” They bolted out the door before we could try to convince them to stay.
A few weeks later, we made another attempt to bond with our children over movies from “the olden days.” This time we ordered Back to the Future on demand, popped some popcorn, and wedged ourselves together on the couch.
“So what does ‘Back to the Future’ mean? Shouldn’t it be ‘To the Future’ or ‘Back in Time’? You can’t go back to the future can you?” Avery asked.
My husband took a deep breath. “Girls, can we just watch the movie?”
They sat back, fidgeting with the effort of staying quiet.
This time, though, our moving from “the olden days” sucked them right in. They loved Marty, and the high school theme was right up their alley. I don’t remember there being quite so much racy language, but given that I had already let the girls see Pitch Perfect, I figured they could handle it.
My husband looked over at me and grinned several times. After plowing through the Back to the Future series, the girls asked to see more movies from “the Olden Days.” We bought the Star Wars trilogy from Blockbuster when it held its going-out-of-business sale. They watched Star Wars and the The Empire Strikes Back in one sitting. Then when my husband went to work, the girls watched Return of the Jedi, which bummed him out as much as it thrilled him to have them be so excited that they couldn’t wait for him.
There is something in being able to connect the dots between what we loved as kids and our own kids. We may not ever be able to truly play together and be friends like we would have if we’d been kids at the same time, but boosting them up to see through this window into our childhood feels like some kind of magical playdate.
Maybe they’re ready for Can’t Buy Me Love…