Thursday, August 26, 2010

7-Word Swap

Words: Epiphany, shark, spirit, watching, terrible, unmarked, playing.

I’d watched it happen to many families. Those little bundles of joy wrapped in a blanket grew. The bundles began to toddle, became independent, developed an identity, and eventually grew taller than their parents. This frequently marked the beginning of the end. Playing would not include the adults in any form any more. I’d witnessed the tears, the fights, the ugly words and loving reunions. Now, it was my turn to go through it. My little bundles were growing quickly. Soon, they too would be taller than me and ready to take on the world.... alone.

Unlike other families, I decided to rebel. I would fight against being left behind. Sunday’s became our family day. It was the one day a week where school activities and parties would just have to wait. This evening, we would be watching movies and eating buttery popcorn. The idea came to me out of a complaint. Apparently, I never wanted to watch anything good. The complaint turned into a light hearted argument about cinematography. The old styles—slow and measured, scarier in imagination than on screen—versus the new style—fast paced and putting it all out there, no guess work. The argument grew more scholarly and then I had an epiphany.

I went to the video store and rented Shark Swarm and Jaws. We all snuggled on the couch and watched. I told them my plan to compare and contrast the films; to put the debate to rest at last. I was pleased to see they were on board and we started the movie.

The kids cheered with great spirit as blood spurted over the pier and across the screen as the toxic infested sharks attacked everyone who came near the water. The same scene played out over and over, with little variance. As predicted, the after movie conversation died quickly. How much could be said about Shark Swarm? The movie said it all and left little room for questions, other than the reality of anything like it ever happening. It was silly horror. Nothing more.

We took a break to stretch and gather more goodies before putting the next movie in. Again, we watched. The kids seemed bored at first. They were not use to movies that weren’t flashy and moved at a more natural pace. After a bit, they were absorbed into the terror of the movie. Their bodies tensed, hands clenched, eyes riveted on the screen, minds begging for answers to the terrible scenes playing out in their heads. When the movie ended, they sat quietly. “Well?” I asked, my joy unmarked by their ashen faces. “What do you think?”

They sat in silence staring at me. Finally, the eldest stood up and clapped. Quickly the others followed him. I bowed and we all started to discuss the movie. We talked late into the night. I smiled knowing that I was in the thick of them still. Maybe not the very core, but still important somewhere on the outskirts.

I may not win the war of the teenage years, but I am elated to take a few battles. Even mundane ones.

*** Swap-bot ***

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