Last night, I took my oldest two daughters out to Walmart to shop for birthday gifts. Bella had been invited to a friends’ birthday party and needed a gift to bring. In an effort to boost her real-life-human skills, I make her pick out these gifts on her own. Usually this also gives me a good indication of what she wants. In this case, I’ll never know the look on this little lady’s face when she opens up Bella’s gift, because I won’t be at the party. No, we have another, very special, birthday party to attend that night so Bella will be going alone to this party.
Cue heart palpatations.
Now listen, I don’t consider myself a high-strung Mom. I will have no issue with dropping her off, giving the parents my cell phone number and carrying on my merry way. Only this time, after dinner, the party will migrate to the movies. Bella and the movies don’t mix. The thought of her being in a dark movie theatre with only peers and very few parents in charge of that large group of kids…well…cue heart palpatations.
My six year old is scared of movies. I’ll wait for the snickering to subside. As an intensely sensitive girl, Bella pretty much feels what you feel- about 10 times stronger. I know this, because I was this. That scary music that leads up to the principle character getting captured/ maimed/ discovered/ broken-hearted? Bella can’t stand it. Her face contorts, her brow furrows and she starts to look at the screen through the tops of her eyelids. When the villain gets closer to their goal, she bails. Every.damn.time. Nothing we say can convince her that at the end of this cheesy movie their will be an ultimate triumph and the main character will always prevail victorious.
So someone please tell me that The Muppet Movie has none of these sequences? Has no antagonist hell-bent on destroying my girls’ evening with her friends? Cause I’m seriously picturing the girl huddled in the dark aisles of a movie theatre, scared out of her wits, emotional as hell and not wanting to be centred out for crying. And it’s breaking my heart before it even happens. Here I sit, straddling the line between clutching her close to make it all better & letting her do the hard work toward independence. And it’s just a MOVIE for chrissake!
So we sat down in her room, had a lengthly discussion about various forms of coping with her stress at the movies sans parents (she’s decided she’ll sit with one of her BFFs and they will hold hands. the cute, I die), how it would make us so proud to know that she is growing up and can do things on her own, how we would be there waiting for her after the movie was over, how much fun she will have with her friends…yadda, yadda, yadda.
And in the end, she’s fine with it. Friday halfway through the movie may present a different scenario, but for now I feel like we’ve done a slam-dunk job of parenting through this potential meltdown. And then I wonder if our making a big deal of it is actually the part that makes it worse? And without us there will she do the hard emotional work because she has no choice? And isn’t that parenting in a nutshell- what they do without you there?
Please, Jason Segel, don’t be a dick to the Muppets and make my baby cry. Or I will junk punch you.