Fonticulus Fides

Monday, November 17, 2003

Proud Mommy Boast

Actually, I'll brag in a minute. First, I'll confess that I let Zooey watch The Wizard of Oz last night. I found out today that it's on the Vatican's list of "approved" family movies, so that's okay. But I also forgot that most kids are frightened to death of various parts of the movie. It never bothered me when I was a kid. I figured Zooey would enjoy it.

Well, a half hour into it, I had to hold him on my lap and tell him that Dorothy was going to be just fine even though she couldn't get into the basement. "She's going on a special trip," I said. "She's going to make some new friends and help some people, and then she'll come back home again." Inside, I chastened myself for jumping the gun. I offered to shut the movie off if it was making him sad, but Zooey said no, and I thought it might be better for him to see the happy ending. I just forgot all the stuff that happens in between.

He watched the movie intently, and I watched him intently. He was nervous when Dorothy got to Oz -- "I'm worried. How will she get home to her bed?"

I assured Zooey that things would turn out just right & Dorothy would get home again, and that satisfied him. A little bit down the yellow brick road, and Zooey looked concerned again. He wasn't so sure about the scarecrow. I explained it was just a guy in a scarecrow costume, and that he was going to be a good friend. He accepted that and returned to enjoying the movie. I prepared him for the apple trees, the tin man, and the lion in the same way, and we got through those.

Then the poppy scene came on, and Zoo got very agitated. "They need help!" he exclaimed, a little panicky. I held him close while we waited for Glinda's snow to awaken Dorothy, Toto and the Lion. Then I prepared him for the Wizard -- "It's just a guy who wants everybody to think he's scary, but he's really not. He shows people a movie that is supposed to scare them, but in the end, you'll see he's just a regular guy."

I'd forgotten about the flying monkey bit -- in fact, I think that was edited out for TV when I was a kid. But Zooey took that in stride, saying something about all the boys in "monkey Halloween costumes." When Dorothy was carried off, he said, "She needs her dog!" and he was actually happy that a monkey nabbed Toto because the dog and girl would be together. But he just about collapsed when he saw Toto stashed in a picnic basket. "What are they going to do to the dog?" he moaned, tearing up a little. I told him Toto would get away, and just then the little canine popped out of the basket and escaped. Again, I offered to turn off the TV, but Zooey refused, and I concluded that the happy ending would be in order.

To my amazement, the chase and cornering bit didn't bother Zooey at all. Nor did the Scarecrow getting set on fire. It's almost like he knew Dorothy would come to the rescue. Then he was happy that the "witch in a bad mood" was gone and everybody would get what they needed from the Wizard.

But in the last Oz scene, when Dorothy is finally going home, Zooey started to cry. "She has to say good-bye to her friends," he explained. I hugged him close and reminded him that he has to say good-bye to his friends, too, but they always get to see each other again in a few days.

So, bad mommy for letting Zooey watch a movie that was too intense for him. But I am so glad that Zooey is an empathetic child, who worries about the safety and feelings of other people. Even pretend people on a TV screen.

That's the really mommy boast. But I'll throw in another. Zooey's learning to sing "Away in a Manger" at preschool for the Christmas pageant, complete with hand gestures. He is so darn CUTE when he sings it for me, raising his hands and wiggling his fingers to represent "...the stars in the sky..." So, racking up the "bad mommy" points, I'm going to ask my husband to record Zooey singing the carol (my husband can play along on guitar) and make copies that I can send to all the grandparents. I'll be kind (or at least cheap) and not send it out with Christmas cards, though.



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