Monday, July 18, 2011

Watching it again, for the first time

One aspect of parenthood that needs to be publicized better is the joy of reading/watching/doing things with your kid that you remember reading/watching/doing yourself when you were younger. It's almost like getting a chance to do something again, but somehow for the first time. The awesome nostalgia factor is even greater when it's something that has remained untouched since your childhood - something you did when you were a kid, and then put away or aside forever.

At least until your own child is old enough to enjoy it, and what a happy day that is! Over the past 10 months, we've been reading the Chronicles of Narnia books with Miriam. It's not quite as precious as it could be since I made the mistake (for these purposes, anyway) of re-reading these childhood favorites when I was in my early twenties. Now, reading them again with Miriam, I have to reach beyond my memories of that most recent reading to get at the ones from my childhood, and they're a bit murkier as a result.

Recently, though, I've watched three movies with my girls, completely unsullied by memories of teenaged or adult viewings. The experience was magical.

The first and most poignant one was The Secret Garden. I distinctly remember seeing this in the movie theater (I can even tell you that it was at Washington Square) when I was 11 years old. I don't know that I ever saw it more than the one time, but it made such an impression on me even with just the one viewing. When I cuddled up with Miriam and Magdalena to watch it a few weeks ago, I was instantly mesmerized - not just by the film itself (which is beautiful), but by my memories of the film as my 11-year-old self saw it. I also marveled that as a kid growing up in Oregon, I really identified with the green English countryside, while my own children connected more with the harsh, sandy landscape of India where the film began. It was so natural to them that a little girl would be growing up amid sand dunes and an exotic tableau of people. The idea of moors and rolling hills carpeted in grass as far as the eye can see is almost as foreign to them as it was to Mary Lennox. I look forward to watching The Secret Garden for the first time again and again, as my girls grow older.

Another fun movie to watch with my kids was The Secret of Roan Inish. Chances are, you have not seen this movie. I don't think anyone outside of my own family has ever mentioned it. It was the quirky, sweet, Irish movie that came before Waking Ned Devine was so popular, and I swear it played on a continuous loop in my family's living room for months at a time during my formative years. This recent viewing with my children wasn't quite so poignant as The Secret Garden. I mostly remembered thinking that certain parts were boring, weird, or funny, and they were the same parts that my kids thought were boring, weird, or funny. In recent days, however, I've heard the girls playing at pretending to be selkies, so I know it made an impact.

The last experience was especially interesting because not only was it the first time I'd seen Aladdin in adulthood; it was the first time I'd seen it since traveling to the Middle East. And wow, does this movie ever get some things right - Jasmine's first walk through the marketplace made me laugh, it was so spot-on. But also, hoo boy, does this movie ever get some things wrong. No wonder Queen Noor got so upset about it. Still, it was fun to see how much of the script and lyrics I could talk/sing along with from memory, considering that when I was a kid, it was around, oh, 100%. And as another reminder of how different my kids' growing up years are from my own, when we were watching it, it went something like: camels, huge mosque-like palaces, endless expanses of sandy desert - yawn, mom, we totally live there.

What have you re-read or re-watched for the first time, again, with your kids? I'm thiiiis close to wishing I had some kind of childhood attachment to Winnie the Pooh. Too bad I hated it. Otherwise, I would take them to the movie, which I hear is lovely. I think that would embody this concept quite nicely.


Sarah Familia said...

I LOVED The Secret of Roan Inish as a child. People inevitably ask me why I have brown eyes and olive skin when my ancestors are all English, German and Irish. My favorite explanation is that I'm descended from the selkies. People don't usually get it. But when we moved to Ireland last summer and the immigration officer at the airport asked us if we had any connection to Ireland, I tried it out on him. He totally got it! But he still thought I was pretty weird.

Glenda The Good said...

Oh the Secret Garden...that movie is delightful! I've been reading Harry Potter to Ezra and it is so fun...granted these are not books from my childhood but he gets really excited about them and that makes me remember how much I loved them the first time. I have in reserve the Anne of Green Gables books and movies for Grace. I desperately want to share them with her, but I'm waiting for that time when she starts understanding the idea of crushes and love, because right now she thinks the only acceptable boy she could possibly marry is her brother, and that just won't do :)

Bridget said...

Sarah, I can't believe you've seen that! You're the first person outside of my family who's even heard of it. Awesome.

Crys, is Ezra scared by HP at all? I am looking forward to reading those with Miriam, too, but I think it's going to have to wait a few years.

robin said...

the first time i sat down with the girls to watch "beauty and the beast" i began to cry. i hadn't seen it for years and that opening narration with that beautiful music... it was just too much.

also, reading "the oxcart man" to the kids for the first time brought back all the feelings i had reading that book as a child. it was and is a favorite...

Sarah said...

"The Wizard of Oz"... I had so much fun watching that again with my children. I hadn't seen it in years and years. (side bonus: now they'll get all the Wiz. of Oz jokes thrown into other movies & social commentary)

Becky said...

Rediscovering books with my kids has been one of the most rewarding things I've experienced as a parent! Both picture books and chapter books. The "Frog and Toad" series, "What do you do with a Kangaroo?", and also the "Chronicles of Narnia" (although, like you, I'd read them as an adult, though I still think it was great to read them with my kids).


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