All Together Now

May 30, 2012 by

 

As a parent of a young child, you willingly expose them early on, whether deliberate or not, to things that appeal to you.  This egocentric act of infusing your own interests on to a young child has its pros and cons.   On a Saturday afternoon in mid-May, I am quite certain the positives outweighed any negatives, especially when this particular afternoon is spent with John, Paul, George, and Ringo.

For about a year now I have been tinkering with the idea of taking my daughter to her first movie.  I have been asking friends, with children my daughter’s age (She will turn four in July), their thoughts on the appropriate age to take a child to the movies.  I listened to all their stories-some confirming, others nightmarish.  As any parent would know, the attention span of a three year old is scant, so you have to be conscious of the films running time.  I also thought it might be best to avoid over-stimulating her mind with the onslaught of images flying from the screen that 3D films offer up so eloquently.

I can’t quite point to the exact moment my daughter’s interest in the Beatles initially came about.  I occasionally turn on Revolver during dinner, or play a few Beatles tracks in the car.  Months back, I made her a mix CD of songs she enjoys for morning drives to school.  I slipped the song Yellow Submarine into the mix, and it instantly resonated favorably with her.

A few months back, iBooks released a free version of the children’s book, Yellow Submarine.  I read it to my daughter one night before bedtime.  The next night she wanted me to read it again, and this pattern continued for a week straight.  Since the book is interactive, it displays the movements and sounds from the animated characters along with snippets of Beatles songs featured in the films original release.

By happenstance, I was walking downtown to grab a coffee one afternoon and passed by Aperture Cinema -Winston-Salem’s theater that features past and current independent films.  As I strolled by the theater, prominently displayed in one of the windows was the movie poster for the 1968 animated film, Yellow Submarine.  Above the poster, in my mind’s eye, were large flashing neon lights shining directly in my path that read– COMING SOON! – THIS SHOULD BE YOUR DAUGHTERS FIRST MOVIE EXPERIENCE.  Seconds later, the decision was made -My daughter and I will spend the following weekend traveling the many seas in a submarine with the greatest band of all time.

The day arrived, and for my daughter, the anticipation was at an all-time high.  I made the mistake of telling her around 11:00 AM that we are going to the 3:00 PM showing of Yellow Submarine.  A three year old child has no inkling regarding the concept of time.  So, for the next three and half hours I made numerous feeble attempts to explain we were not leaving for the movie till 2:30.  Throughout that afternoon, I became quite adequate in the art of distraction.

As 2:00 PM approached, a rush of anxiety apprehended my inner thoughts.  I envisioned our arrival being met by a sold out theater.  I saw myself kneeling down to deliver the terrible news, only to be overcome by the confused and extremely disappointing expression sweeping over my daughter’s face.  I had no Plan B, so we darted off to the theater at ten minutes after two.

Approximately five minutes later….

We had finally reached our destination; we were the first in line.

We grabbed out tickets, popcorn, drinks, and headed into the dark theater.  For the next half hour we stuffed out faces with popcorn, and watched the four local ads on the screen cycle through about fifty times.  She was getting antsy…..so was I.

Let me first offer my sincere apologies to the twelve or so patrons in the theater (So much for a packed house).  My daughter does not adhere to the unwritten rule of low whisper discussions while the reel is running.  In her first three years of life, anytime she speaks, the pitch and volume are never adjusted for time and place.  I was not going to shit on her excitement and the sheer enjoyment of her first film, so I decided not to correct her when she yelled out in theater, “Daddy, I see the Blue Meanies!”

Over the next 80 minutes, a young girl and her dad sat on the edge of their seats, staring intensely at the screen, taking in all the joys that this life experience offered.  Every so often, she would glance over with a look of “did you just see that”, accompanied by the widest of smiles.  It was priceless.  The trippy images spawned a moment as I caught myself reminiscing about the first time I viewed this film.  I believe it was roughly eighteen years ago with a group of friends, all under the heavy influence of a certain drug, something John Lennon liked to refer as turning off your mind, relaxing, and floating down stream.  I sat there in delight as the sounds of Eleanor Rigby came blaring through the theaters speaker system, when an influx of questions filled my head.

  • Will she remember this moment later in life?
  • What lasting impact will this experience offer?
  • Can the art of music be the most cherished gift one can receive?
  • Did I just play an integral role in the creation of a potential lifetime fan of the Beatles?

I did not dwell for long on searching out the answers to those questions.  Instead I focused on the present, and a story I can one day recount with her about an afternoon we shared together.

 ********************

A week or so passed; I picked up my daughter from school.  She requested the Beatles tune, All Together Now, for the drive home.  I searched for the song on my phone and pushed play.  I could hear her in the back seat quietly singing along.  She stopped singing for a brief moment to ask,  “Dad, can you take me to a Beatles concert?”

I never answered her.

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2 Comments

  1. Cindy

    Great story and one you will be telling for years. I truely believe in exposing children to all types of music, it makes them well rounded adults.Have you gotten sick of Yellow Submarine yet?

  2. jan ankerson

    Matt, CORA WILL NEVER FORGET HER FIRST MOVIE WITH YOU. You have proven that children have a great memory of their childhood events…you so beautifully shared this with me in your extraordinay letter on Mother’s Day. A gift of love…ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE….

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