Last Sunday brought another outing with Little. He wanted to see GI Joe and his mother said it was OK, so I set it up. Our normal meeting time is 2:00 but because the movie started at 1:50, I arrived at his house at 1:15. I have a pet peeve about cutting things too close and I’m kind of particular about where I like to sit in a movie theater. I like to be in the top row whenever possible, because there always seems to be a little more leg room there, the next best option is the first row of the stadium seating area. I knew it would take about 15 minutes to get to the theater, I figured there’d be popcorn and drinks to be obtained and I wanted to make sure bladders were emptied prior to the start of the movie (particularly mine.)
When I arrived at Little’s apartment he was sitting on the living room floor with his brother playing a video game. He was wearing track pants and a t-shirt and I thought he was just ready and waiting for me, (I was about two minutes late). His mother said something to him in Spanish, but the only word I was able to make out was pantalones (pants). I thought that was strange because he looked ready to go to me, but he paused the game, got up from the floor and ran off to his room. His brother reset the game so he could continue playing on his own (He and his Big Brother go out on a different day).
That’s when I noticed it. The game they’d been playing was set in a warehouse of some sort. What’s shown on the screen is from the perspective of the character’s eyes. So you see the room around you, you see the boxes and crates that are spread about and you see the other characters in the game. Off in the distance you see a red cross-hairs and at the bottom of the screen is an assault rifle pointing ahead of you. The objective of the game is to put the cross hairs on the enemy characters and shoot and kill them. I asked Little’s brother who was winning and he shrugged and said, “I don’t know. You just shoot people.” The only thing that made me feel at all better was that twice as I watched him play the game, his character was shot by the bad guys and he died. Of course he just hit reset and started the game over so the consequences may not be really driven home, but at least it’s not just him running around killing other people.
Little re-emerged from the back of the apartment, having changed his clothes to blue jeans and a shirt with a zip up hoodie jacket. He also had his hair gelled and styled. His hair is cut such that he can have a “fauxhawk” and he wanted his mother to style it for him, it’s actually really cute, and I’m a little jealous. We got a late start because of this but we had plenty of time.
We arrived at the theater and there was a bit of a line, but nothing too bad. I asked him if he wanted to get something to drink but he said no. I asked him if he was sure and he said no again. Once we finally had the tickets and were inside the building I asked him if he needed to go to the bathroom. He hemmed and hawed about it a little bit until I said, “’Cause I need to go to the bathroom so we have to go in there anyway.” We both went and I was impressed when he went straight to the sink and washed his hands without me saying anything at all.
We walked past the concession stand after we left the bathroom and Little said, “OK. I changed my mind. I do want something.” I asked him what he wanted and he said he wanted popcorn. Last I checked you can’t drink popcorn, kid! I didn’t mind, I was going to offer that as well. So I got a small popcorn (In movie theater terms, small is relative) and two bottles of water. This was going to work out fine because I drink water more slowly than I do Diet Pepsi and I thought maybe I could make it through the whole movie without having to go back to the bathroom.
By the time we had our snacks and got to the door of the theater it was 1:52 and the previews had already begun. I was prepared to tell him to wait inside until our eyes adjusted to the dark but when we got inside there were only about six people in the whole theater. I let him pick the seats and he did a pretty good job.
I don’t know what Little weighs but he is still small enough that he has to sit in the back seat of the car. He ended up fighting for his life with the seat as it tried more than once to fold back up with him inside. I’m going to have to work out how I can help him with that.
We settled into our seats and started eating the popcorn while watching the previews and he was pretty funny. He would pick up one kernel of corn and put it in his mouth and immediately pick up the next one repeating this method over and over till his mouth was full and then he’d chew it. Whatever. He was happy and that’s what really matters.
Now, the movie… The movie was really pretty terrible. It was clearly all about the action, and there was a lot of action and I’m realizing that action isn’t enough for me. I like an action movie as much as the next… not terribly macho guy but I need more. K once told me she didn’t like a certain movie because, she said, “there was too much plot. I don’t like a lot of plot in my action.” (And no K, I’m not calling you a macho guy.) I am different though. If there’s no plot in my action the action isn’t worthwhile.
I’m honestly wondering if I have always been this way or if it’s a new development but, given the concerns I’ve raised previously with Little and his preoccupation with guns, I found myself far more acutely aware of the gratuitous death. It’s funny how we, as a society, tend to turn a blind eye to death and destruction in our “entertainment” as long as it’s the bad guys that are dying. Watching Fast & Furious, just the other day with Michelle, I actually cheered a little bit, at the end when the bad guy died. But in GI Joe there was a lot of the bad guys killing good guys (extras though they may have been) and there’s a scene where they’re driving through the streets of Paris and the bad guys are crashing into and flipping cars right and left, if not killing then at least injuring innocent civilians in their path. Putting aside, for a moment, that I would not have seen this movie to begin with if not for Little, I do not know if I would have been bothered (or as bothered) by this if Little hadn’t been there. In general, I felt that this movie was much too much for seven year old eyes.
But the plot, my God, the PLOT. The plot was riddled with as many holes as the characters lying dead or dying on the ground. I was left with so many questions and had I cared about the movie to begin with I’d have been terribly dismayed instead of just annoyed as I am.
Lesson number one for Kevin, when taking a seven year old to a movie, he will have to go to the bathroom at the height of the action. Little spent most of the movie staring intently at the screen barely speaking. I suppose it could have been very different. He could have talked through the whole thing. Every once in a while he’d say, “Whooa. That’s coooool!” but that was about it. I glanced over at him a few times and as the movie progressed and got more intense I noticed he had his index fingers in his mouth and he was rocking forward and back in his seat. I asked him if he was OK and he said he was. I thought maybe he was nervous. I didn’t know that this wasn’t just a thing he does, like sucking his thumb. But I had my suspicions about what it meant, and sure enough just as we were reaching a pivotal moment in the “story” he leaned over to me and said, “I have to go to the bathroom.” That was OK. I did too! But to this day, I do not know what happened to The President.
This week, we’re going to see Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs which seems much more up my—er, his alley. I’m actually looking forward to it and Little doesn’t know it, but we’re going to go see it in 3-D.
I had a check-in call with Hadley, the Match Support Specialist this week. They require it in the early stages of the match, but I wanted to talk with her anyway. I wanted to know, from Big Brothers and Big Sisters perspective if I was over-reacting to the gun thing. Hadley confirmed what I already suspected; that I can’t really say anything to Little’s mother or even to him as far as telling him that this is “bad”. But she also agreed that it’s unfortunate that he’s exposed to so much of it and that I should just keep an eye on it but make every effort to keep the focus of our time together off of such things. So I’m on the look-out for other things I can do with him. Thanks so much to Jody for some great thoughts in the comments on my recent post for things to do with Little. It was a great help. I’m open to more suggestions from any and all of you if you’ve got some insight you’d like to share!