By Patricia Patti
Despite the comical antics and jokes cleverly played out in the new holiday released movie, Parental Guidance has several life lessons. The film shows the struggle between generations and different views on child rearing. The movie’s conflicts are so fundamentally human, making the audience smile, no matter which side you may find yourself. Last week I watched an example of steadfast parenting in the very theater the movie was playing.
Sitting in the dark watching the never ending previews, I studied the younger viewers around me. The conversation between a seven year old boy and his mom to my right caught my attention. I watched him fiddle with a small bag of candy nestled in his lap. He asked his mom if he could eat it. She said to him he had to wait until the movie started. As the previews droned on so did this kid’s anticipation to indulge. Repeatedly he requested permission to devour his little bag of sweets, and the response from mom was not until the movie begins. Pure torture!
I am a grandmother of three very, young children. I have the luxury of studying children and watching their behavior while no one else seems to be paying attention. For instance, while adult conversation hums around the dinner table, I silently gaze at my two year old grandson as he visits imaginary lands while clutching his little blue car. He is in a world of his own, and I am a voyeur to his private world.
I continued to enjoy watching this young movie goer, patient as can be, line up his stash, one by one, on the armrest of his seat. He arranged them in a neat row, balancing them carefully, waiting for the signal to go. I could hear him sigh every time the next preview began, a glance to his mom, another few minutes to go. Time moves very slow at that age.
I find tremendous patience now with kids, more than I did when I was neck deep in the balancing of early life. I listen better. I use my words. I enjoy the process of watching them learn something new. I can sit back and use perspective, see the value of the moment, the insignificance of the trivial. As a grandparent I see the whole picture, I can triage what matters or not. I leave myself open to see and feel things I do not expect in places I think I know.
Finally the trailer music recedes, the lights dim and the feature film credits roll. With one glance at his mom, the young man was given the final blessing to eat his treat. He was so overcome with excitement that when he reaches over to the candy he accidentally knocks most of it to the dark, sticky floor. Scurrying to his knees, he scrambled to retrieve the lost treasure. Settling in to his seat again, head bowed, jaw chewing, he found his ultimate joy of the afternoon.