Opening Night

And while we are on the topic of opening weekend movies, the fam went en masse to see Infinity War on opening night. There were a few highlights of the experience plus some insight into my two oldest children that I’d like to share.

First off, I’m not going to go into any real detail about the movie, so you are basically spoiler safe. At the same time, the movie’s been out like a month, so if you haven’t seen it yet, I find it hard to believe that it’s all that important to you. I’m not going to be as careful as I might have been if I had written it that week as I had planned.

First, the theater was packed – just like you’d expect for the first showing in town. Everyone was excited. My husband was running late so I went out to the ticket taker, gave him the ticket, and described my husband before heading back to the theater.

The trailers had already started so I carefully snuck back to my seat. Something was bothering me about the trailer though. It seemed to be staying on that scene too long – a crazy alien guy walking through a sea of dead and dying people, giving some grand speech.

I leaned over to Jane and asked, “What movie is this for?”

“This isn’t a trailer,” she responded. “There were no trailers. This is the movie.”

I was shocked! The whole reason I didn’t wait in the lobby for my husband was because I absolutely despise missing even the first minutes of a movie. But OK. That shock paled in comparison to the ones to come.

The crowd behaved just like you would expect an Opening Night crowd to behave. Lots of oohs and ahhs and cheering and shocked gasps and cries of horror and laughter and clapping. I was missing some of the dialogue because of it, but the energy was palpable and made it all worth it.

At one point, a bearded man dressed in all black came on the screen. The theater erupted in cheering. I was confused. I couldn’t think of who the person was. How could this nondescript person be this many people’s favorite? So, I leaned back over to Jane.

Who is that?” I whispered.

She stared at me for a moment and then laughed. She got her brother’s attention. “Daryl! Daryl! Mom just asked who Captain America was!” He leaned over to stare at me incredulously before shaking his head and turning back to the movie.


As I’m sure practically everyone has heard, the ending was a shocker. Actually, multiple shockers. Shocker after shocker after shocker. I sat there kind of numb thinking, I can’t believe they are doing this to their fans. I mean, Marvel fans are so devoted!

People were exclaiming in dismay. I could hear people crying. My son – insight #1 – was laughing. He was looking around the theater with a certain amount of superiority on his face, laughing at everyone there. He’s jaded enough to know that the dead people weren’t going to stay dead.

As the credits rolled, a friend came down to sit next to me. We talked about the movie and the ending and watched the credits, anticipating, like everyone else, the end credit scene(s). Well, almost everyone else. I think 5-10 people got up and left at the end. Who does that? I mean, really. You came to Opening Night of a Marvel moving and you aren’t staying through the end? Are you that dense? Or were you that mad at the ending? It made no sense.

As we talked, we saw that the end of the credits were rolling toward the top. The excited chatter that had filled the theater as soon as the last scene ended died abruptly. You would have thought the audience was an orchestra and the conductor had just circled his arm to stop the music.

Everyone waited. Silently. The last words disappeared from the top of the screen. The screen was blank. The theater was deadly quiet. And then… more words appeared at the bottom and began to scroll up.


I chuckled. They really were messing with their fans. The friend and I began to theorize that they were actually going to stick it to everyone by going with no end credit scenes. In a Marvel movie. We were wrong – there was a scene, but that pregnant pause in the credits? I think that was my favorite part of the entire experience.

It was as we walked to the parking lot that I had insight #2 about my children. They were complaining – vociferously! – about the crowd.

“Why couldn’t they have been QUIET? Sheesh! I couldn’t even hear the characters talking!”

“I know! I kept missing stuff. OK. We get it. We don’t need you to clap when your favorite character comes on screen.” (I wondered if either noticed when I clapped enthusiastically for Black Panther).

“And that one girl? Did you hear her scream?!”

“Yeah. That was crazy. I mean, who even likes Ironman that much? Chill out – it’s just a movie!”

“Like remember when we went to Star Wars? And that text and the music started at the beginning? Everyone went wild. I just don’t get it. I wish they’d just shut up.”

“Um, guys,” I tried. “That’s the way opening night is. People get into it. That’s the whole reason for going. It’s an experience. It’s different than what you get any other night.”

“Well, I don’t like it.” The other one agreed.

“Then you need to not demand that we go on opening night – because that is always what you are going to get,” I said.

“No, I’m still going to go then. I just wish people would be quiet.”


Who knew my kids were such killjoys?

The Grossest Part of Deadpool 2

We double dated with our daughter and her boyfriend opening weekend for Deadpool 2. Since she was the only other member of our household we were willing to let see the movie, it seemed like a good time to see it.

First thing I noticed as we sat down was that there was a large party of people sitting in front of us. It looked like an extended family – many of whom were children. And I don’t mean just-about-to-enter-high-school young teenagers like Daryl (who is unhappy we won’t let him see it). I’m talking twelve or younger.

I shook my head but “what evs” – not my monkeys, not my circus – a mantra I’m trying more and more to adopt. But then the movie started and it was soon made my circus – and everyone else’s – in a funny way.

It’s not a spoiler to tell you that the movie started with a lot of blood and gore and guts and death and mayhem. If you didn’t see that coming, you probably weren’t planning to watch the movie anyway. Lots of people’s heads were sliced off, blood spewed everywhere. Typical Deadpool.

But then Deadpool returned home from his killing spree to put his domestic side on display. Think “honey, I’m home!” He and his girlfriend bantered back and forth, talked about big future plans. Big upswell of emotion for Wade Wilson (that’s Deadpool when he’s not all masked-up and violent) that led to them making out.

Now, if you don’t know much about Deadpool, Wade was hideously burned in the first movie. He’s really quite horrendous looking, which is why he covers his face completely when he goes out killing, or really, goes out just about anywhere. Only the undeterred love of his woman made him more at ease with his appearance.

And here he is in a beautiful display of love and affection with his lady. That’s when the monkey invaded my circus. In a little high-pitched voice that I would place at maybe 8 years old – tops, a little girl shrieked in disgust, “Ooooohh!”

The theater erupted in laughter, myself included. But it also made me a little sad. I mean, think about it. That little girl had just watched dozens of people killed in very violent and bloody ways. That didn’t disgust her. Didn’t upset her. Didn’t make her cry out in horror.

But two people kissing? That was simply a step too far. Parents, listen up. I’m not going to tell you how to run your circus, but I will pass on this suggestion. If your kid isn’t old enough to see two people kissing without reacting – loudly – then they really, really aren’t old enough to be watching a rated R movie.


{A big thank you to Jane for helping me with the title. I think she came up with a perfect one. All I did was add the -est to the second word.}

Inside Out

So here’s my dilemma.

I’ve got this post I wrote a bazillion weeks ago. Ok, not really. I wrote it back in May but with all that’s happened since then, it feels like a bazillion weeks ago. It’s about my adopted state of Texas and one of its quirks. I should really read over it and publish it already. It won’t be relevant if I wait too much longer.

But then there’s how Sunday morning went and I really want to tell that tale – about how I really wanted to stay in bed and cuddle and listen to the rain but dragged myself to church instead. Because I had to, more than wanted to.

Oh, and then there’s my thoughts about my step-dad that brought me to tears during the Father’s Day worship service. But my dad-dad reads my blog and I don’t want to hurt his feelings. Could I write it in a way that would convey the emotion I was feeling but not hurt dad’s feelings?

And then there’s all the reading I’ve been doing about Charleston and all the different perspectives and my overriding feeling that we just aren’t ever going to progress to some place valuable as a nation. I want to write about that too but… Nah. I know for sure that I don’t have the energy to plumb those depths.

So what’s a woman to do?

I think I’ll talk about movies. I’ve seen some doozies lately. And by that, I mean really, really good ones. Seriously.

Several weeks ago… well, sometime after I wrote that post about Texas that I’ve yet to publish… I saw Mad Max: Fury Road with my husband. I was quite simply blown away. Blown. Away. That movie was perfect. There’s lots of good blogs and articles out there about just how perfect that movie was so I’m not going to try to bumble through it myself. Here’s one of them. I don’t have anything to add – that article pretty much sums up my reaction to the movie.

Sunday night, we had a movie marathon – Jane, Daddy, and me. First we watched The Butler. I was amazed again. And chilled. And thought about Charleston. And sat there still. And happy and sad at the same time. We decided to top it off with Forrest Gump. Because why not? And because Jane hadn’t seen it yet and that seemed like a shame.

So then we get to Monday afternoon. I was barely able to get off work in time to join my family at the last matinee-price showing of Inside Out. We had been looking forward to it for several weeks now. Or maybe a bazillion. I don’t know. I’m pretty sure we started looking forward to it long before I wrote that Texas post that maybe I’ll get around to sharing later this week. Maybe.

Anyway, totally different tale than Mad Max. That probably doesn’t shock you. But… again… I was blown away. Blown. Away. This movie is magical. It nails emotion. It found a way to explain the inner workings of the brain in a fantastical and magnificent way. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud as much during a movie as I did in this one.

You have to go see it. You simply have. To. Go. See. It. Right now. Or when the theater opens. Whichever comes first. I loved this movie. My family loved this movie. I loved watching my family love watching this movie. Hal was on the edge of his seat near the end. I think Jane and I might have missed some of the on-screen magic just then because we were too busy staring at the in-theater magic sitting next to me: back straight as a rod, face intent, a slight smile, body leaning forward with anticipation.

It’d be hard to escape the theater without catching the at-credits extras but make sure you don’t. You can leave after the cat. But don’t you dare leave before the cat! I’m telling you – the entire movie was precious and sincere and lovely and funny and charming and insightful. But the cat – the cat was real. The cat got it right. So make sure you stay for the cat.

That’s all I’m saying.

So, yeah, I could have talked about what’s wrong with Texas’s obsession with football. I could have talked about my deceased step-father. I could have walked the minefield that is divorce and tried to discuss Father’s Day. I could have talked about faith and commitment and fatigue. I could have talked about racism and America. But life is heavy enough and you need a smile.

So go watch Inside Out. And stay for the cat. It won’t let you down. I promise.

Dear White People

My husband and I went to see Dear White People Sunday evening.  First, I want to say that we both thought it was a wonderful movie in every respect and we fully recommend it to everyone.  The second thing I want to say is this.  It was not about race.

Don’t get me wrong.  Race was a very heavy and present backdrop.  The plot centers around a growing discontent between the black and white students on a fictional ivy league campus.  It deals fully with the kinds of issues unique to African Americans and it takes a critical look at white privilege as well as those senseless acts and comments white people do and say without thinking.

But it’s not about race.  What struck me as I left the theater, still savoring all the complex characters and their relationships with each other, was that it’s about people trying to find their place.  It’s about people not fitting in and then not being true to themselves in an effort to fit in.  It’s about internal and external conflict of character.

Yes, race was an important part of that discovery.  What does it mean to be black?  What does it mean to be biracial?  How must a person act to fit in with his or her black classmates?  What if a black student wants to fit in with the white classmates instead?  What if a person is black and gay?  And a nerd?  What if they can’t fit in with the black students and also can’t fit in with the gay crowd?  What about the rich legacy black kid whose dad has strong expectations of him?  What if he’s hiding part of who he is?  What if a woman finds herself in an angry/defiant black revolutionary role but is in love with a white man and is afraid her friends will find out?  If a white woman is dating a black man just to make her family squirm is she using him?  Is it any different than him sleeping with a black woman that he’s not really interested in?

These characters were so rich and engaging.  Each was striving for something he or she didn’t have.  And in some cases, couldn’t have.  Their struggles were real and oh-so believable.

Now… I’m not black.  I am ignorant of most of what black people in this country have to deal with.  I have spent a small amount of time over the years talking to black friends and acquaintances so I have a secondhand sense of some of it.  A secondhand sense is wholly inadequate but it’s about the best I can ever get.  I understand from an academic sense what institutional racism, white privilege, and micro-aggression is about.  I say this so that my next statements will not be taken to mean that I think my experiences are of the same magnitude.

What often makes a book or movie engaging to a reader or watcher is the ability to relate to one or more of the characters.  One reason Hollywood appears to use in not making many movies with all black or nearly all black casts is the fear that white people will think the movie will not relate to them.  Boom, just like that, they lose a large chunk of the potential audience.  Black people?  Well, they are used to only having a handful of black characters and most of them stereotypes at that.  So no need to worry about them.

Here’s the deal with Dear White People.  I related to these characters.  And, no, I’m not talking about the clueless white people, although I admit to seeing me in some of their actions too.  I mean that I was able to relate to the black characters.  Not their struggles with being black, but with their struggles with being alive in this world.

A dilemma  of sorts was presented in the movie.  It went something like this:

You walk into a restaurant and to the waitress, you look like a black customer that didn’t tip her well in the past.  She only takes your order after taking everyone else’s in the room.  You wait 45 minutes before your food comes out.  Now it’s time to tip.  What do you do?

1) Leave the standard 15%.  It’s what’s expected.

2) Don’t leave a tip!  The service was terrible!  A tip is to reward good service and she didn’t provide that.

3) Recognize that she expects you, a black person, to not tip well.  Leave a generous tip to try to change her perspective.

Obviously, I’ve never faced racism in a restaurant.  I still got excited at the familiarity as the dilemma was presented though.  Why?  Because I’ve experienced the same dilemma.  Families with young children are often assumed to not tip well.  So some waitstaff are not as attentive as they should be.  Should I confirm their invalid assumptions by giving them the lower tip that they so richly deserve?  Or should I tip them handsomely in the hopes that they will drop their stereotype and treat the next family better?  Been there.

Then there’s trying to fit in with the group that I’m not actually part of.  A black woman in the movie tried so hard to fit in with a particular group of whites.  If she played her cards just right, she could get some pseudo-acceptance, but she was never fully part of the group.  And in her attempts to be part of the group, she left behind her black friends.

Likewise, when I was fourteen and trying to show the older boys on the hiking trip that I could keep up with them – indeed, be one of them, I abandoned my girlfriend who wasn’t as strong or as fast.  I didn’t dare walk with her at the back, where I could have enjoyed her company, because I was afraid the boys might think I couldn’t keep up.  I threw away what I had to chase after something I couldn’t.

There’s plenty more examples that I won’t elaborate on.  Let’s just say that this movie did a terrific job in making these characters accessible to everyone.  I believe it proved that a movie can have all the main characters be black and still be something non-blacks can relate to.  It wasn’t poking fun like a Tyler Perry movie.  It wasn’t a gut-wrenching portrayal of slavery or pre-Civil Rights era.

No, it was just a story of ordinary people trying to find their way in the world.  And those people just happened to be black.  It added to my understanding of the rich diversity of black perspective.  It proved (although it sadly shouldn’t have needed to) that there are as many different perspectives among black people as there are black people.  Same as whites.

I don’t want to minimize the important analysis of the complexity of race in America that the movie engaged in.  There are a lot of lessons for both blacks and whites, plenty for us to ponder on how we relate with the each other, both within our race and without.  But I truly believe the bigger lesson was that we all face the same most basic struggles.  How to find our place in the world.  And how to be content when we find it.

Diverging from Divergent

Ok, this post is rife with Divergent spoilers, both book and movie. I’m warning you. You can safely read until you hit the DIVERGENT SPOILERS line. Anyone still reading after that, I shall assume that either you have read the book and seen the movie or do not care about spoilers.

We finally got to see Divergent this weekend. Jane missed an opportunity to go see it with her main group of friends and I was starting to wonder how we’d make it work. If she had seen it with her friends, then my husband and I could have seen it on a date night while she babysat. All three of us still waiting to see it was a logistical problem.

Lucky for us, some good friends commented after church Sunday that they (meaning the mother and daughter) were going to go see Divergent. The father said he wanted to get home to watch Nascar. A solution blossomed in my head and I smiled sweetly at him.

“Would you be interested in having some extra boys at your house?”

He shrugged and said that’d be fine.

He wife warned, “You realize that includes Home Slice don’t you?” Home Slice is his inexplicable nickname for Hal, our youngest and the one without a counterpart in their household. He shrugged again and confirmed it was ok.

And before I knew it, I was sitting in the theater watching Divergent. Now I had already checked out the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and knew it wasn’t getting a great response. But when you are a fan of a book, you go to the movie regardless.

And I am a fan of the book. Not as much as my daughter is, but I enjoyed the read. There were several plot points, however, that didn’t feel solid to me. It didn’t make sense for the characters to do what they did. Some of the confusion was cleared up as time went on and I learned more (some of that confusion, btw, was reflected in some of the reviews). A few points stayed with me even after completing the series.

To my great surprise and delight, the movie, weak and overlong as it may have been, “fixed” all my problem spots in the story. I honestly can’t think of another time when I’ve watched a movie and felt they fixed some very specific problems I had with the book.

******************* DIVERGENT SPOILERS ***************************

1) Tris’s final test for Dauntless.

Tris is Divergent. This means she doesn’t fit into the mold of a specific faction and is considered by some to be dangerous. It also means she can manipulate simulations, including the simulations used by the Dauntless faction to have people respond to their worst fears through hallucinations. To move past a fear, the person must either “defeat” it or calm their breathing and heart-rate.

Tris, however, is able to know that what she is experiencing is not real. She can also change what is happening. The first time she realized this, she was trapped in a glass box filling up with water. When she was unable to kick the glass out, she reminded herself that it wasn’t real and simply touched the glass, causing it to shatter.

Doing so caused Four, her instructor and soon-to-be boyfriend, to realize what she was. He and another character told her that doing that in a simulation would broadcast to others that she was Divergent, which would get her killed. She was strictly warned not to manipulate the simulations in her final test.

So what did she do in the book? Manipulate the simulations. Make a gun appear at her feet. Make a door appear at the end of the closet. Make it start raining. And… touch the glass to make it shatter. The. Exact. Action. That. Prompted. The. Warnings. The other manipulations might be argued as “ok”, but certainly not that one.

You could also argue that she was just stupid (a weak argument since one of her strengths was “Erudite”) or that she forgot under the stress. That argument does not explain why the Dauntless leaders watching did not immediately nab her when she woke up.

The movie fixed it. She responded to all of the crises in ways that a Dauntless person would. Most noticeably, she didn’t break the glass. Problem solved. She’s not stupid. And we have a reason why she wasn’t in custody or dead when the invasion took place the next day.

2) Tris’s Execution.

Once the Erudite take mental control over their now robot-like Dauntless army, Tris and Four pretend to be controlled like everyone else. Circumstances eventually out them and they are taken to the Erudite leader. The book and movie diverge in this scene, but the end result of each is that Four is taken away and Tris is ordered executed.

In the book, we have this great parallel to her fear landscape where she is placed in a glass box that is filling with water. Oh, no! Now it’s not a simulation! Whatever shall she do?!

Just like the old Adam West Batman TV series, though, the villains leave her unattended or at least unattended enough and her Abnegation mom, secretly a bad-ass, comes and rescues her.

The scene has punch until you step back and think about it. They are in the Abnegation area, which the Erudite just invaded with their Dauntless army. It’s all happening on the same day. When did the Erudite have time to setup the water tank? Would they really have taken the time during an invasion to setup the means to kill her with style? Especially not knowing for sure ahead of time whether she was Divergent or not?

The movie solved the problem in a much more realistic manner. Her execution is ordered. Her captors drag her outside between some buildings, force her to her knees, and prepare to shoot her execution style. That’s when bad-ass mom comes tearing out of the woods with a gun and takes out all the soldiers. Same punch, same effect. No doubt about the likelihood of the bad guys actually behaving that way.

3) Stopping the Mass Simulation to Save the Day.

When Four is taken away, it’s because he can also resist simulations and the Erudite want to test a more powerful control serum on him. He demonstrates it works at first by nearly strangling Tris. But he’s still able to break free. They take him away to work on a tougher one.

He is eventually successfully controlled and sent to the Dauntless control room where he can mastermind the invasion. Unbelievably, despite his previous observed ability to resist simulation and everyone’s assumption that he is Divergent (and thus not to be trusted), he is left to manage this important task alone. There are guards in the facility but he is alone in the control room.

This makes for a poignant scene when Tris is able to fight her way in. He goes to kill her; she resists. They are all alone. She tries to get through to him and finally succeeds when she decides to turn the gun she has trained on him to her own temple to kill herself in a pure demonstration of selflessness (an Abnegation trait). This wakes him up and together they are able to stop the simulation and thus the slaughter.

Would they really leave him there alone? With the lives of thousands at stake, would she really try to kill herself to break him free? Maybe the second point – she was kind of odd. But the first one?

In the movie, the control room is full of Erudite people, which makes sense. Why in the world would they leave a mind-controlled Dauntless in charge of it all? And alone? In the movie, he’s there: hooked up to a simulation, strapped down to a chair, doing… something. Tris sneaks in and tries to free him. He then tries to kill her. The struggle continues roughly as the book had it but with Erudite witnesses.

When she succeeds in breaking his mind loose, they then turn and fight the Erudite. They have a pretty easy time of it since they’ve trained for fighting and the bookworms haven’t. Tris then tries to get the Erudite leader, the person you would expect to be controlling the simulation, to stop it. She refuses. They stab her with the mind-control serum and then tell her to stop it and she does.

My daughter probably hated the scene because it was such a sharp deviation from the book. I, however, found it much more believable.

In the end, the book was good. The movie was ok. But if the book had been written with these scenes conducted more like the movie, wow. The book would have been great.

Parental Censoring

My evolution as a parent has been an interesting thing to watch. I was so much more careful with what my children saw when I was new at this. I’m not sure which version of me is better.

My first memory of cautious parental censoring has to do with whether Jane, then about 4 years old, could watch Shark Tales. I watched it first before deciding that there was just too much blatant sexual innuendo and she simply could not watch it.

My first stumble came when my husband and I thought it’d be so cool to show the kids (barely turned 7 and 4) that great movie from our childhood: Goonies. I squirmed on the couch as the boys in the movie tried to glue the penis back on a small replica of Michelangelo’s David – upside down, all the while repeatedly yelling “s**t!” and “my mom’s going to kill me – that’s her favorite part!”

Jane was too scared and left the room for most of the movie. Daryl, the four year old, repeatedly declared it his favorite movie at his preschool. His teacher raised her eyebrows in surprise. I guess she has a better memory than I do.

Since Jane was more sensitive than Daryl, we didn’t have too much trouble keeping everything age appropriate before Hal came along. If it was too mature for Daryl, Jane probably wasn’t ready to watch it either.

But then Hal came along. He’s five years younger than Daryl and eight years younger than Jane. When he was a baby, we’d just plan Harry Potter or other viewing for his nap time. He still has nap time but is particularly gifted at avoiding sleep during it. This means that won’t work anymore. He also resists going to bed without his big brother so after bedtime doesn’t work well either, unless the movie is only for Jane to see.

One day, Jane came home telling us that we just had to watch the movie Pitch Perfect. We tried to send the boys to bed but Daryl lobbied for permission to stay up and watch it with us. Once he secured permission, Hal put up his own fight.

Since it was so late, my husband convinced me that Hal would probably fall asleep anyway so we should just let him stay in the room. I had my doubts and I was right. He stayed awake the whole time, and since the entire family loved the film, we’ve watched it a dozen times since.

It’s hard to justify not letting him watch a movie that he’s already seen but now that he’s watched it so many times, he’s able to quote significant passages of the movie. Most of his favorite ones are ok. “Bootie work! Bootie work!” while he shakes his fanny at you is borderline. The worst, by far, is this one:

“I’m going to pitch-slap you so hard that your man boobs are going to concave.”

A preschooler is not known for clear enunciation and without the context of the movie to help with the pun, it sounds to any innocent bystander as if he just said “bitch-slap”.

You could say that we just made a mistake and this movie is not an indication of a slipping of our standards, but the fact is, even though I know we shouldn’t have let him see it, I don’t particularly regret it because we have, as a family, enjoyed referring to the movie.

Pitch Perfect was just the tip of the iceberg though. I let Daryl race through the Harry Potter books much younger than Jane. I’ve let him read Ender’s Game a full two years earlier than Jane – just so he could go watch the movie with us, which we did at 8:00 opening night – a school night! I even let Hal watch Thor on his birthday (PG-13 and on a school night!).

And the crowning jewel: when my husband passed off the decision on whether to let Jane go to a Walking Dead premier watch party at a friend’s house late on a school night, with the full belief that I would disallow it, I gave permission. Despite the fact that she had been having disturbing and terrible nightmares about zombies just this past summer.

I still draw the line at Hal seeing violent, intense, and/or action-packed PG-13 movies at the theater. I still check before letting Jane see a theater movie I’m unfamiliar with. I still expect family to restrict viewing to PG or G without my consent. And when Jane asked to return to the friend’s house for week two of the Walking Dead, I loudly proclaimed NO! in unison with my husband.

So I’m not a lost cause. Just a considerably more relaxed version of my former self.

When The Kids Are Away, The Parents Will Play

The kids are away from home this week and we are making the most of it. We had a great time at a wine tasting party last night. Today, we made plans for the movies.

Checking up on the kids while they are away has always felt like a chore. They sound very shy and not that interested in being on the phone. The conversations go something like this: “Hi, sweetheart!”…”Hi mommy.”…”Are you having fun?”…”Yes.”…”What have you been doing?”…”We went to the zoo.”…”That sounds like fun! What did you see?”…”Animals.”

This time, however, Jane has a cell phone. I decided to take a texting approach. The result was a lot more fun. Many of these messages passed each other, which means like many texting conversations, we were often answering each other out of order. I’ve included the timestamps and rearranged them a little bit so it will make more sense.


Later, I wanted to rub it in that I had been to the movies – a rare treat for me.


That last bit was a reference to a movie date we were supposed to have months ago. Thanks to the power of texting, I went from date to chauffeur with alarming speed. First she gained permission for a friend to accompany us. Then it grew to three or four girls and mom was no longer welcomed to tag along.

The next bit of the conversation saw me go down in auto-correct flames as I was trying to send the texts quickly in order to keep up with her.


I thoroughly enjoyed this conversation with my daughter. It spread out across the day and was fun. Her possession of a cell phone is perhaps not all bad.

Big Dreams

Jane: “When I grow up and become a famous movie maker, I’m going to make a movie called The Mysterious Benedict Society and it’s going to be the most awesome movie ever.”

Me: “You’ll have to get Mr. Trenton’s permission to make that movie.”

Jane: “Oh, no problem. I’ll get permission.”

Daryl: “When I grow up, I’m going to be a multi-billionaire and then I’m going to buy Disney.”

Jane: “Disney already bought Star Wars.”

Daryl: “No, they bought Lucas Films, which means they bought Star Wars and all the other movies too.”

Jane: “That’s right. Being a billionaire is so last year though. I’m going to be a multi-trillionaire and then I’m going to buy Disney from you.”

Daryl: “Well, then I’ll just get multi more multi billions and multi more trillions and then I’ll be richer than you.”

Jane: “So? I’ll still have Disney.”

Daryl: “Well, I’m going to make something. I’m going to come up with something that will allow me to have an unlimited bank account.”

Jane: “You can’t do that. You know why? Because our money is tied to the gold at Fort Knox so there can’t be any such thing as an unlimited bank account.”

Daryl: “I know. But I’m going to be the King of England.”

Jane: “You can’t be the King of England. You weren’t born in that blood line so you can’t be the King of England.”

Daryl: “I know, but if all the people that were born of the blood died then I could be.”

Jane: “How are you going to pull that off?”

Daryl: “I’m just good like that.”

Jane: “How are you going to get all this money anyway?”

Me: “How are you going to get all that money?”

Jane: “I’m not.”

Me: “No, that money you said you were going to have when you said you were going to be a multi trillionaire and buy Disney.”

Jane: “I’m not.”

Me: “So you were lying?”

Jane: “No, I was pretending. Where are you going to get all that money, Daryl?”

Daryl: “I’m just pretending too. And while I’m pretending to have all this money, I’m going to have a big mansion.”

Jane: “You realize if you buy a big mansion, you’ll have a mortgage note on it.”

Daryl: “I know.”

Jane: “And that means you’ll have to pay it.”

Me: “I think if he’s a billionaire, he can afford the mortgage. If he even has to take one out at all.”

Daryl: “I’m going to have 10 mansions. And a light blue limousine. That would be cool.”

I’m Bad and that’s Good

Today, I met the family at the movie theater when I got off work. Or, as Hal refers to it, “the popcorn place”. We watched Wreck It Ralph, which I highly recommend. I had the honor of transporting the kids with me afterwards and thoroughly enjoyed the conversation.

“Which bad guy would you choose to be, Mommy?” Daryl asked shortly after we got in the car.

“Oh, I think I’d have to be Wreck It Ralph. Because he wasn’t really a bad guy, was he? He was more of a good guy.”

“Yeah, that’s true.”

“Can you think of any other bad guys that have turned into good guys?”

Jane jumped in, “Darth Vader!”

We talked about Darth Vader’s transformation. Then we added Gru from Despicable Me and after some brain stretching, Megamind. We talked about what makes Bad Guys bad and Good Guys good.

We were having trouble coming up with more bad-turned-good guys. They tried the monsters in Monsters, Inc. but I insisted that they weren’t “bad”, just from a different culture.

I also rejected Draco Malfoy, when he was suggested. We discussed the difference between stopping being bad and actually becoming good. Did the Malfoys actually become agents of good or just step aside? Jane insisted Draco did good in the Room of Requirement during the final battle at Hogwarts.

“How?” I asked.

“Well. He saved his friends.”

“Bad guys save their friends. That doesn’t necessarily make them good guys.”

“He nodded at Harry at the train station later.”

“Nodding makes you a good guy?”

She thought some more. “Oh, I know! How about the guy in Tangled?”

That got us to talking about bad guys versus Bad Guys. Thieves versus villains. Did the love interest in Tangled count as a “bad guy” when he wasn’t the evil force in the movie? Or was he just a guy that was making some poor decisions?

“Ok, so maybe we shouldn’t talk about bad guys and good guys. Can you name any characters that went from being evil guys to being heroes?”

“That’s too hard, Mommy.”

“It’s usually the other way around,” Jane finally said. “I mean, usually it turns out that the good guy is actually bad.”

“That’s true, but it usually turns out that they were always bad and we just didn’t know, so they didn’t really change,” I claimed.

The conversation lasted for the drive to Sonic and while we waited for our hamburgers. And then the whole drive home.

Once I feared we had exhausted our knowledge of good bad guys, Daryl remembered Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. We all agreed that he was perhaps the best example of someone going from truly bad to hero. Daryl was pleased with himself.

As we pulled into the driveway, Jane suggested Hades from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief. “But was he really bad turned good?” I asked.

“Sure. He wasn’t going to help the other gods and he was going to hurt Percy but then he ended up helping him.”

“But isn’t that just how those crazy Roman gods always acted? Pouted and did their own thing and picked on people and then sometimes decided to help them? I mean was he really “evil” before and then “good”?”

“Mom, Hades wasn’t a Roman god.”

“Ok, whatever. Isn’t that what the Greek gods were like? Amazingly enough, it seems they were an awful lot like the Roman gods.”

Hal hadn’t had much input in the discussion of cinematic portrayals of good and evil. His repeated interjection was regarding his favorite scene in the movie:

“My favorite part was when the bad guy smashed the little girl’s car all up and she cried.” Speaking of bad guys… I think I need to help one get unbuckled from his car seat.