Television pales by comparison to our real life

My four-year-old son looks at me with a terrified expression. “I have to get out of here, Mommy.”  Are we in a war zone? No. We're at the movies and the trailers are playing. To him, a boy with sensitive ears, it's one and the same. The deal is, we don't have a television, DVDs or videos at home. So, occasionally, the big treat is, we get to go to the movies. But the result turns out to be sensory overload.

I haven't immunized him enough to the high pitch of Hollywood and he's finding what most of us have come to accept at G-rated movies to be nightmarish.

My "it’s okay” is like a hundred warning bells going off in his brain.

The no TV thing started three months ago, when we moved to Vancouver from Cortes Island. We left the TV behind. I knew it was going to be a challenging transition and I wanted us to talk, to get closer, in the process, and not further apart. If we didn't have a TV, DVD or videos at home, I figured I couldn't overly rely on them to sedate my two highly active boys and create more time for myself. I would instead interact with them, which was what I really wanted to do. The boys had so far accepted my explanation that we were too busy for TV now that we lived in the city and that life was going to be exciting enough.

My four-year-old is clambering over me, then his brother and, then his brother’s friend. Before I know it, he’s running up the aisle of the dark theatre at the Oakridge Mall, his solid little body determinedly making headway.

“I’ll be right back,” I tell the older boys, as I clamber over them.

I’m torn.

I don’t want to leave the ten-year-olds in the theatre alone. What if some perp slips up next to them while I’m gone and…

On the other hand, they’ll almost for sure be okay. Still, I really should stay, I think.

We’re at the door.

“It’s just make-believe,” I say, taking him by the shoulders and looking into his eyes. “Really.”

“It’s the Eragon commercial,” he whispers.

He’s out the door in a flash.

I glance one last time down to the row where my ten year old and his buddy are enjoying the show.

And then I am forced to resort to the bit of magic, a friend told me about a long time ago.

She was the mother of two boys and I was still single and childless. She explained that she knew she couldn’t control what happened to them. They were accident prone at 9 and 10. They climbed onto the roof of the house and leapt off onto the trampoline. Their dad thought this was great, but she hated it. She was outnumbered. Instead of spending her time agonizing each time they flew off the house, she surrounded them with white light.

My God what a flake, I had thought when she told me this.

I mentally surround the boys in white light. Then I create a force field of white light. Then I make it impenetrable. Then I go to find my four-year-old.

I find him in the lobby playing with the Flushed Away advertisement. You push a button and it makes a flushing sound, replicating the sound made when the rat who stars in the film is flushed down the toilet by the other rat only to find himself in a new and unexpected world, a world populated by rats.

I feel the irritation of a parent who wants to be somewhere else, perhaps at a Fellini film, rather than a film about animated penguins who dance and sing and try to warn humans of the dangers of global warming and turn out to be thousands of not very well disguised pixilated versions of Al Gore rising on an automated elevator while holding a pointer before host of flow charts that tell of the end of the world.

I hear a boy, about my son’s age, tell his father he doesn’t want to go into the theatre. His brother, about my older son’s age, pulls at his dad.

“C’mon. We’re going to miss the movie.”

The little kid’s afraid. I hear a conversation exactly like the one I just had with my young son, implying that even the most mundane encounters are pieces of universal experience laden with symbolic meaning.

The father, growing irritated, assures his son that there’s nothing to be afraid of past the movie theatre doors. "Oh, yeah there is," the kid says.

I wait for them to turn around and come our way. I'm prepared to commiserate.

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