So school is out. Our last day was June 4th. Believe it or not, we haven't had the requisite Hell Week that always happens in the days immediately following the last day. There's usually a transition time for the kids (and honestly, for me too) where we all simultaneously decompress and prepare for almost 3 solid months of togetherness. It hit me, last week, that Hell Week wasn't hellish at all. One more advantage to the kids getting older, I wonder? Or are we perhaps all in a better place for the first time?
Anyways. Last Friday, I wanted to do something with all of the kids, all four of them and just them. No friends. Don't get me wrong, I love most of their friends but the opportunity to do something with just the five of us rarely comes up. This past Friday we were all available, there were no sleepover people still lingering, there was no baseball, Charlie didn't have to work.
So we went to the movies.
"Super 8" opened up last week, and I have been DYING to see it ever since I first saw a trailer several months ago. I am a sucker for "kids band together to overcome obstacle" movies, and this one had not only that element but several other compelling features: it's set in 1979 (I love to be swept back to a sweeter, more innocent era), there's something scary in it, and just from the brief trailers and the reviews, I got a total ET/Goonies vibe. I had to see it. And I wanted to see it with my kids.
We have a new-fangled theater here, a luxury movie house with comfy seats and a big, beautiful lobby. You feel special and pampered at this theater. I've only been there two other times, once with John McCain to see The Blind Side (hated it) and the other time with two of my favorite hens to see Bridesmaids (loved it). First-run movies are not something that I indulge in with great frequency. Back in the day, when I had plenty of spending money, I'd take the kids out to see the latest new releases, let them get whatever they wanted at the concessions, and sometimes even let each of them bring a friend. So, I decided if I was going to splurge on something as crazy as a new release movie, I'd totally pimp it out and go first class.
I felt very Judy Jetson as I ordered the tickets online. Amazing what you can do in these new techno times. I picked our seats, the first row of the upper section, where there is nothing but an aisle and a nice big railing in front of you, so you can put your feet up, lean back, and drink it all in. I had told the kids that we were going, and three of them, the ones with boy parts, were excited about it. One of them, the girl, wasn't. "I don't want to go" she said, rolling her eyes. I explained to her that it was too late to back out, that I had paid for the tickets and we don't have $7.50 to just throw into the wind. "It looks like a stupid movie" she said, this time not even looking up from her laptop. The time to get going was rapidly approaching, and as much as I wanted to yank the laptop away from her, pull her to her feet and force her to be as excited about this as I was, I simply said "Ok."
The rest of us assembled by the front door, and as I gave the boys the rundown on how this was going to happen (stop at the gas station to get some contraband treats, ONE treat per kid, one drink at the theater, ONE drink per kid, no begging for more, no negotiating, no exceptions), I heard Molly shuffling out from her room. "Wait!" she said..."Wait! I'm coming!". I smiled a huge smile as we left the house. My girl gave in. This was really going to happen, this rare little family thing.
So the time finally came. Treats were purchased and were shoved in my purse, Icees were purchased and were being slurped. We sat in a row, me and my four babies, legs up on the railing, the anticipation of a fun, scary movie heavy in the air. The lights began to dim, and as they did, I looked down the row. Looked at my kids. My big Charlie, my sweet, soft-cheeked Henry, my baby William and next to me, my girl. When was the last time we'd done this? I couldn't remember. I wanted to freeze this moment, like so many others, and put it somewhere secret so I could take it out and feel exactly like I did just then.
I'm not going to say much about the movie, except that it kicked ass. And it delivered everything I had hoped it would: nostalgia, more than a couple jump-in-your-seat scary moments, some eye candy for Mommy (Kyle Chandler, who most people know from "Friday Night Lights", but since I'm a fossil I still know him as the kid in "Early Edition". Mama like.) and lots of action to keep the kids focused. There was even a little weeping done by me, just a couple of tears, but I am the fool who cries over YouTube videos of kittens that my friends post on facebook so no big newsflash.
As we walked to the car afterwards, there was chatter. Excited, post-movie chatter about favorite scenes and actors and "was that what things really looked like in the 70's, mom?". The kids were due to be picked up by Big Daddy in just a little bit, so we headed home for a late lunch.
On the short drive home, I thought about how our lives have changed, and how wild it was that something as seemingly simple as a movie could bring us back in time a wee bit, make things seem normal again. I silently vowed to myself that doing things like this, not just going to movies, but things with just the five of us, together...is something we need to do more often.
Seeing my kids in that theater on Friday, all of them sitting in a row, next to each other, next to me, did my heart good. This summer is the last one that I have when all of them are still in school, when there's a defined beginning and end. Charlie is going to be a senior, and William will be in his last year of elementary school. Things are going to change next year, big time.
It was nice to steal that moment in the theater, those few seconds as the lights dimmed, to take a mental snapshot of my kids, a picture I burned into my memory. Even now, as I type this, I can see them as they were, and my eyes are welling with tears once again. Happy tears, for sure, but also some bittersweet tears.
They're growing up, right before my eyes. I want to stop time, or at the very least, slow it down a bit, just so I can have a few more moments like that one in the theater.
A moment I can remember when things change.
To sum things up: the movie is great, go see it. See it in a theater, if you can. It's not quite as magical as ET, but it's up there.
And hug your kids. Tight.