Even though the Bean had yet to make it more than 40 minutes through a movie at home, I decided that it was time to take him to a theater. There have been a lot of important milestones that I have experienced with my son, but for me this was a big one. I really wanted him to love movies. I really needed him to love movies. I am an unabashed movie geek. Some fathers dream of playing catch with their son in the yard, I fantasize about the day when I’ll show my son STAR WARS. There is a lot of father/son movie bonding that I have planned for the Bean and me.
The groundwork for the Bean’s exposure to a movie theater had already been laid by way of a Curious George book. While reading him the book one afternoon, I nonchalantly asked him if he’d want to go see a movie someday. When it comes to the Bean and Curious George, it’s literally monkey see, monkey do, so of course he said yes.
Two days before the movie, I started the hype machine. For the Bean’s first film I had chosen BOLT*. I began to tell him about the movie. I showed him pictures of the dog. I fed him the characters' names. It worked. The afternoon before the movie, the Bean was so excited that he didn’t want to take a nap.
On our way to the theater, I gave the Bean some last minute instructions. I reminded him that the room would be dark and that the sound would be loud. I also drilled into him the cardinal rule of theater movie-going—silence. (I take my obligation to raise my children right very seriously and I will absolutely not bring up a movie-talker. No sir!) Once inside, the kid asked for popcorn. I was expecting this because Curious George eats popcorn. But unlike a monkey, popcorn for a toddler is a choking hazard. So I had planned ahead and brought cheese puffs in a plain paper bag. I was ever thankful that the Bean had no idea what real popcorn looks or tastes like.
We settled into our seats. The Bean looked so small sitting in his stadium seat chair. He munched away on his “popcorn” as the lights went down. I watched the Bean intently during the first few minutes to gauge his reaction. Instantly, he was transfixed. He sat there, wide eyed, giggling with unabashed joy at this marvelous thing in front of him called a movie. And this may be the sappiest thing that I ever write here, but I don’t care because it’s true…a tear came to my eye as the Bean and I watched his first movie together.
*We didn’t see it in 3-D for fear that things coming out of the screen might freak the kid’s head off.