Confession Coffee Hour. During their two week Spring Break, my children did not visit one museum, complete any big art project or experience one educational or cultural event. Our babysitter went to Hawaii to swim with sharks and I had to work. So what did I do with two children, aged 8 & 6, that was interesting, time-consuming and could be done without substantive (or meaningful) adult interaction?
I introduced them to the world of 1970s Television and Movies.
And they loved it.
Just like I did, when I was their age.
And here’s the crazy thing. Family television shows and movies, circa 1976, are amazing!
Now don’t get me wrong. I am one of those crazy militant moms who doesn’t let her children watch television during the week. And I dole out weekend tv & movie privileges like a prison guard – stingy & strictly good-behavior-based.
I used to work in the Television & Film industry and I think a lot of current television & films are incredible works of creativity (I’m a religious follower of Jon Stewart & don’t talk to me while I’m watching “The Good Wife.” And I’ve seen “The English Patient,” “Moulin Rouge,” and “Casino Royale” more times than I’ll admit.) But modern-day children’s tv & film fare? Other than the occasional inspired film (gems such as “Nanny McPhee” & most anything by Pixar), most are uninspiring & lackluster at best (or dysfunctional & gratuitously violent at worst). ”Snarky,” “idiotic,” “one-dimensional” and “that’s no way to talk to adults” come to mind. Oh, yeah. I pride myself on my staunchly liberal social & political views but when it comes to parenting & media… I’m RSVPing “yes” to that Tea Party invitation.
But don’t cry for my children. Because I’ve re-discovered the glorious decade of the ’70s.
So when you need a good 90-minute, guilt-free break from hands-on parenting, check out this list of my kids Spring Break ’12 favorites. (Note: My 8 1/2 year old was able to follow the stories & “get” the humor but my 6 year old needed a pre-summary on most of these):
- Chitty-Chitty, Bang-Bang (Two of the songs went on a bit long but the whole kids-locked-up-in-dungeon mayhem scene made up for it, big-time.)
- The Apple Dumpling Gang (They laughed aloud thru this whole movie; they are still talking about the firehouse & the bank explosion scenes.)
- The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (They thought this was not as funny but they gotta learn about sequels at some point.)
- The Incredible Mr. Limpet (Once they discovered Don Knotts, there was no going back.)
- Bedknobs & Broomsticks (Angela Landsbury rules.)
- Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (The Gene Wilder version — While I love Johnny Depp, this Willy is much more normal-kid-friendly.)
- Charlotte’s Web (The original. Both kids teared up twice… and my daughter asked if we could go to the Library to get the book as soon as the movie was over.)
- The Rescuers (They asked if they could watch it again, immediately.)
- The Brady Bunch (Season 1 & 2. Mike & Carol demand respect, damn it.)
- Little House on the Prairie (My 6-year-old son didn’t like these but my daughter has discovered the love of Laura.)
- The Looney Tunes (Spotlight Collection volume 1 & 2. Every kid should know that the Coyote & Sylvester never win and that TNT always explodes in your face.)