Back in the summer of 2017, MM and I went to see Spiderman: Homecoming at the cinema. Even before we went, it felt like a special trip. It was the first Marvel film that either of us had seen and we were going to the cinema together, in the evening, which made it feel different to the many visits to ‘Kid’s Club’ movies on a Saturday morning, or the latest animations with his younger siblings. I’d heard a review before we went and thought it seemed age appropriate for a nearly nine year old to see on the big screen, with the sometimes intimidating sound and atmosphere. As we walked to the cinema, him holding my hand all the way, it felt like a watershed moment. We were going to see a movie that we both wanted to see, not one which I didn’t mind watching it, but I was really ‘taking the children’.
He clearly felt it too. He asked if it was going to be scary and I explained that just because it was on in the evening, it didn’t mean it was going to be too scary and that it would probably be less adult than the Star Wars films he’d seen, but still when the music got menacing, he would put his hand on my arm, or shuffle closer. Of course, nothing in the movie was too much for him and there was plenty of humour to balance out the peril.
We bounced home, chatting animatedly about the bits we liked, the funny bits, the excellent soundtrack, in the way that I would talk to any grown up about a movie. It was nearly 9pm and it was just starting to get dark. He felt grown up. It felt different.
Since then, we have shared most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at home, with Mckdad, but without the other two kids. Mckdad had seen many of them before, but says that watching with us, watching our reactions, hearing us “woah” and “Stan Lee!” and “Cap!” made the films much more enjoyable. MM knows that Thor and Captain America are my favourites, of course he doesn’t know why and one day will realise and shout “Muuuuuum! That’s so embarrassing!”
Our regular movie night with our eldest has become something that we all look forward to. We have introduced him to some of our favourites, such as Bill & Ted, Men in Black and Back to the Future. We have mixed other new films with the superheros, for example Ready Player One (We all loved this) and Fantastic Beasts and Where to find them. It’s an adjustment to find that your children can now stay up nearly as long as you can and you feel like giving up your child free time is going to be hard. I am sure that as they all start to stay up every evening, it will be an adjustment, but for a night or two a week, it’s refreshing to find that you can enjoy the same things as your kids.
This isn’t a post to urge you to watch Marvel movies, although, honestly I would recommend most of them as a few hours of popcorn fun. What has been a revelation to me over the past year has been that, as much as we sometimes mourn the loss of the pre-school years or feel the bittersweet pull of them growing up too fast, the joy of sharing something with your child that you enjoy as much as they do, is something I’d never considered and had no idea how wonderful it would be.
As they grow older, there’s no denying that they grow away from you, it starts almost as soon as they are born and that’s how it should be. However, finding something you can share together as they grow up is a special thing and sometimes you have to follow their lead on what it will be. So often, I think we are guilty of dismissing what they are interested in as frivolous and not for us. We leave them to play their computer games or watch the superhero movies with their friends and skulk away to be more serious and adult. I’m not sure I would have gone to see Spiderman if I hadn’t thought that MM would love it and I certainly wouldn’t play Super Mario Odyssey if he hadn’t asked me to, even though before children, I loved a good superhero movie and a computer game.
Sharing something with them wholeheartedly and on an equal level is so worth it. So, I guess if anything, I am urging you to open yourself to their interests, or introduce them to yours, but do it for real, not in a ‘I don’t want to do this, but the children like it’ way. Embrace the fact that you no longer have to read the same picture book every night, but can share amazing books for older children that you will love too. Swap the dreaded soft play for a film that you can enjoy just as much as they do. Doing so has been an utter revelation to me and I am excited to see what I can share with the other two as they get older as well.
Tonight, MM and I are going to watch Captain Marvel at the cinema. I am not sure which of us is more excited (me, I think. I mean, it is a female led superhero movie, set in the 90’s, of course it’s me!), but the fact that we are both excited makes me so happy to leave those pre-school days behind and embrace what is to come.