I’m just gonna go ahead and say it – watching movies with my gifted kids is the worst. Sure, I like spending time with my children and sure, there are innumerable on-screen stories out there to share and experience with them, but when it comes down to it, the idyllic image of popcorn and snuggles falls away quickly and the reality of it all takes over. Watching movies with gifted kids stinks.
Wow, Jen, isn’t that a little harsh? you might be thinking. And before I tried to watch, oh, literally any movie ever with them I may have agreed with you. It does sound harsh. But so do the incessant questions.
Oh, the questions.
I try to prepare them before we settle in, I do.
“Listen, kids, I’ve never seen this movie before so I don’t know what’s going to happen. Whatever questions you have in the middle of it, I can’t answer them. In fact, if you wait about 10 seconds I bet whatever question you have will be answered by a character. I have no more information than you do. Seriously. I don’t know, I can’t know, and if you take the time and volume to ask me any question about the movie, we’ll miss part of it. Especially since I can’t answer it.”
Does this prep work… work? Of course not.
“Who’s that? Where did he come from? Why is that his name? What is he doing? Where did he get that? Why is that what shirt he’s wearing? Is he secretly a bad guy? What is his name in real life? Did you know that was going to happen? Why is that his job? Where is he going? Do you know if they’re friends in real life? Did he really do that stunt? Did he really bleed? Was that CGI or puppetry? Did they shoot this in a different location? Is that a set or a real school? How much money did it cost to make this movie? What did he say earlier? Why did he say it that way? What just happened?”
We miss half of the movie because of these dang questions. I’ve watched several movies 4 times and still haven’t seen half of it because of all of the questions. So many questions, even during movies they’ve seen. Why? Because they also overthink everything.
“Do you think that actor wanted to smoke or is he doing it because he was told to? Don’t they know there’s no fire in space? Why is that the name the director chose? Or did the director choose it? Is that the accent he’s supposed to have? Why do you think she became a bad guy? Do you think she really meant that? What if they did it a different way? How long do you think it took them to train that dog to do that? If they hadn’t chosen this comic to make the movie out of, what else would they have chosen? What was that sound? Do you think the government can really create a neuralizer? Did you see that his cup had less in the scene before but now there’s more? Did they choose this actor because they liked him in that other movie? Doesn’t this remind you of that story we read…?”
If the questions ever take a break, there are overexcitabilities galore to keep my attention away from the movie.
Psychomotor kid is wiggling, nodding his head, and bouncing. He’s crunching popcorn loudly, playing with the kernels, and if we’re in a theater, he’s kicking the seat in front of him. Imaginational kid is making toys out of his straw, creating side stories for the characters, talking the whole way through about what else could have been included. Sensual kids are practically laying on top of me, constantly reaching for more blankets or covering their ears in reaction to the volume. It took them 46 minutes to get comfortable to begin with, and one is at risk of falling asleep under his weighted blanket. Intellectual boy is asking all the questions. Literally, all of the questions. Any questions that could ever be asked, he’s askin’ ’em, or pointing out every inaccuracy and impossibility he can spot. And sweet little emotional girl… she’s sobbing. Deeply. The bullies were too mean or the dog was too far away or Bing Bong… well, we’ll never finish grieving Bing Bong. (Side note – if you have a kiddo who struggles with emotional overexcitability then you’ll want to check out Does The Dog Die before watching anything involving animals. You can thank me later!)
Of course, no rant involving watching movies with gifted kids would be complete without the ever-present, “That wasn’t in the book!” I know, son. And I know that the movie left out some parts that were in the book. I wasn’t invited into the production meetings and I didn’t get a chance to approve the script so I can’t speak to the decisions that were made. I know, the book said she’d have brown hair but they cast a blonde. I know, that’s not a traditional Welsh accent. I know, zippers hadn’t been invented yet but that costume clearly has one. And yes, I know, Wolverine has now been given four different origin stories. The best I can do is say I’m sorry and ask you to just please, for the love of cinema, just try to enjoy the movie.
I wish I could offer you some advice, a printable, some closing remark that would encourage you and make movie-watching so much more enjoyable. But alas, all I can do is commiserate, relate, empathize. And maybe catch it again on Netflix in a few months when the kids have gone to bed.