I just showed my kids all three hours and 53 minutes of Gone with the Wind.
I may have jumped the cultural gun a bit (they’re only 8 and 10), but it was a rainy Saturday. I’d finished my bi-monthly dusting (translation: every other month). And I was feeling like a good long cinematic hunker-down.
After all the Cartoon Network crap they’ve gorged on this summer, I felt we could all use a nice Oscar-winning palate cleanser — all the while getting these New Englandy children in touch with their tea-sippin’ Southern roots.
Guess I sort of glossed over in my mind all the adultery, slavery, warring, amputations, dying children and ponies, and general suffering that is Gone with the Wind.
There ain’t a song and dance number anywhere to be found on the red earth of Tara. About twenty tragedies in, Lucy asked with great Disney-inspired hope, “Is there at least a happy ending?”
No way, sister. Just sit back and enjoy the soul-crushing ride.
They did. Mainly because if there’s a screen playing something, anything, even a commercial with two people sitting in bathtubs on a hilltop – my children will watch enraptured.
Oh, and I also provided popcorn and Sour Patch Kids.
But this wasn’t exactly a quiet ride. There were many questions to be asked. Oh my sweet Lord, so MANY MANY questions.
Will fired the first shot: “Why were women’s butts so big back then?”
Questions continued in rapid-fire succession. And they were really, really annoying.
- Q: What is she eating?
- Q. Why is she eating that? Why is she falling down?
- Q. What’s wrong with that horse’s mouth?
- Why does Scarlett hit people so much?
- “Why are rich people so lazy and make other people do their work for them?” Also, “Why is that little girl fanning those girls with peacock feathers?”
Then there were observations that deeply disturbed me as a Southerner, like:
- “I thought the Union soldiers were the good guys.”
And of course, there are always those pesky, uncomfortable “adult situations.” Like when a drunken Rhett whisks Scarlett upstairs to, ahem, have his way with her.
- “What is he doing with her?”
Maybe they were too young to get Gone with the Wind. Okay, not maybe…probably.
But it was worth it. And seriously, we’ve been good so long.
As doting parents, we’ve slogged through a decade of loopy Baby Einstein videos and happy clappy puppets and god-awful Lego Ninjago cartoons – and we just want to watch Seinfeld already.
We want to share with our kids the things we love. And oh, how we love Seinfeld.
Sometimes our well-meaning attempts to share turn out just like we’d imagined. It thrills my dorky heart to hear my children bellow at each other, “Inconceivable!”
But sometimes it leads us to do fool things like cue up Grease for family movie night (or fill in the blank with any PG movie from the ‘80s that we remembered as perfectly harmless) before we realize exactly what they’re singing about while waxing that car and we lunge for the eject button.
We’re just in a weird cultural limbo. The kids aren’t yet teenagers (amen to that), but no longer babies. So with varying levels of success, we start introducing them to E.T. and Duran Duran and Hitchcock movies a little bit at a time – and sometimes to all of The Avengers at once (because Mom had book club and Dad was in charge).
Because honestly, it’s one of the fun privileges of parenting. We get to fill our kids up with the stuff that we love in the hopes that they’ll love it too. And I want my kids to love Rhett Butler. (They aren’t convinced. But tomorrow is another day.)
They definitely love Kramer. And one day, I’m sure they’ll love Danny and Sandy.
But not quite yet.
I’m not even near ready for all the questions about that skin-tight catsuit.