« Sticks and stones... | Main | All grown-up, and nowhere to go »

Thursday, February 05, 2004

Popping the question

Sometimes stuff happens that is just too great to trust to memory. The following occurred a few months back, but I wanted to write it down before it slipped away into A.D.D.-land:

For a while now, I have been renting classic musicals on video. The wife and I both love them, and the kids seem to really enjoy them too. There was a point where nearly every week we would have 'family musical night', complete with popcorn and soda. ‘The Sound of Music’, ‘Carousel’, ‘My Fair Lady’, ‘The Music Man’…you name it, we probably watched it. It really tickles me that our kids know (and like) so many of the songs I grew up with.

However, we ran into a little dilemma when I brought home West Side Story. Great music, great dancing…great musical…so what’s the problem? The problem was that we had (as I just mentioned...please try to pay attention!) gotten into the habit of watching the musicals as a family…and we were worried that there might be too many adult themes and images in WSS for little kids (e.g. prejudice, gangs, violence, smoking, etc.). This would also be the first movie the kids would be seeing that didn't have a happy ending (ok, ok...I recognize that for you feminists out there, the plot resolution at the end of My Fair Lady qualifies it as a tragedy). In the end, we decided to let them watch, since the show could (theoretically) prompt the kids to ask consructive questions about stuff like resisting peer pressure, love over hate, and racial blindness.

The kids absolutely devoured the film. By the end, Ariella was sobbing in disbelief, (“y y you mean he’s really dead??? He's not going to wake up when she kisses him??????”) Let’s face it, West Side Story doesn’t exactly have a Disney ending.

We explained the concept of tragedy to Ari, and between sniffles she assured us that she understood it was just a story. Gilad, on the other hand, was sitting very still with a contemplative look on his face. He hadn’t uttered a word during the film, and he had remained silent throughout our efforts to comfort Ari. But, clearly something was bothering him. I can always tell when he is turning over an important question in his mind, and by all indications he was getting ready to unload a big one. Would it be about the violence? Would it be about the racial slurs or prejudice? The suspense was killing us.

Finally Gili turned to me, and with his most earnest tone of voice, he dropped the bomb:

“I don’t understand something.” he began. “If you want to be in a gang…do you have to know how to dance?”

Now, of all the possible questions that could have popped out of my little boy’s mouth…let’s just say I was unprepared for that one. Of course, I’m sure all the Ward Cleavers out there are sitting back in their cardigan sweaters and contemplating what words of wisdom they might have offered under similar circumstances. I’m confident that better men than I could have delicately balanced the subtle humor of the moment against the fragile little-boy-ego that had ventured such a wonderfully naive question.

Not being Father-of-the-Year material, I opted for spraying Diet Coke out of my nose and rolling around on the couch holding my sides.

Yeah, I know…we’ve already established that I’m going to hell. This just confirms my reservation in that extra-toasty-warm corner of hell where bad, bad fathers are sent for ridiculing their sons.

Thankfully, there is nothing more amusing to a little boy than sodapop shooting out of his father’s nose, so I was somewhat off the hook. And, yes, I explained to him that if he wanted to be in a gang, he would have to undergo years and years of intensive dance training.

Posted by David Bogner on February 5, 2004 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Popping the question:


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


Don't ever let him see the video for Michael Jackson's "Bad," or you'll never convince him otherwise.

Posted by: Tanya | Jul 23, 2004 5:34:00 PM

Ok, you need a warning on this post. I just choked on my chocolate cake! LOL!!!!

Posted by: westbankmama | Dec 23, 2007 9:30:06 PM

Post a comment

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In