Thursday, September 30, 2010

Entertain Me Weakly

Earlier this week, I was desperate for something new for Westley to watch. Westley doesn't seem to mind watching the same movie for weeks on end. But my brain was going to turn to jelly if I had to hear the same dialog coming from the living room even one more time.

So I racked my brain and my DVD collection for something preschooler-friendly that wouldn't also make me want to claw my eyes out. I finally settled on my favorite of the Pixar films. Except that I completely misjudged the preschooler-friendliness of my selection.

Do you remember how flippin' scary the beginning of Monters, Inc. is? Well, I didn't! And instead of adding a new movie to the viewing rotation, I terrified my child.

I should be better at finding awesome, non-scary children's entertainment. I studied film in college, and I know how visual media works on us and why. Furthermore, I know what I like to watch and what my kid likes to watch. I just can't seem to make this knowledge work for me.

This left me wondering why it's so challenging to find movies and television shows for people Westley's age that don't also bore people my age to tears. Of course every child - and every parent - is different. What my kid finds terrifying, yours might find hilarious! I'm not looking for something challenging or deep - just something I might watch even if I weren't the parent of a young child.

"Sesame Street" - or, I should say, old "Sesame Street" - is wonderful for this. But I'll admit that much of my fondness for "Sesame Street" comes from having grown up loving Bert and Ernie, Grover, and Kermit the Frog. I'm sure there are parents who detest "Sesame Street," or whose toddlers just aren't interested.

As much as I try to push my viewing agenda, several of Westley's favorites were discovered by chance. Shrek II just happened to be playing on TV when we were on vacation, and Westley now adores it and asks for it at least twice a week. When I put on Shrek, in attempt to expose Westley to the excellent movie that precedes his current favorite, he declared the original "too scary."

So, I'm curious: how do you decide what your little ones will watch (assuming your family watches television or movies at all)? Do you take your own tastes into account when choosing media? What are your kids' favorite films and television shows?