I still remember the first movie I took my oldest son to see, Elmo in Grouchland. Now, this was back when Elmo was still a big thing and going to the movies didn’t cost two arms and legs. Chase was probably three when we went to the movie. He was very excited and, frankly, so was I. Not see the movie, but to take him to his first movie.
I put him in his safety seat in the back of my car and we proceed to the theater. This particular theater was about ten miles from my home, not a huge distance, but it was going to take a few minutes to get there. I knew Chase was excited as he talked incessantly. That was fine, I loved listening to him talk. His sweet voice was cute and his use of words just astonished me, after all, he WAS only three.
As we pull into the parking lot, he sees how big the building was and he got worried.
“Daddy, what if I woose you?”
“Don’t worry, Chase, you aren’t going to lose me.”
We go in and I purchase the tickets and get us some snacks. At that point in his life, Chase did not like candy. I know, I never understood, but was glad he did not. No, instead, he wanted a hot dog and juice. I got it for him and for myself, a small popcorn and soda. We go to our seats and, then…
…the lights went down. Well, that scared the crap out of Chase. So much that he nearly threw his hot dog! I reassured him that all was well and that the movie was about to start. But, before I could warn him that the picture was going to be big…
the damned music started and the previews came on screen.
He was almost in tears.
I calmed him down, let him know it was normal and that the picture was supposed to be that big. He grew to like it.
After several previews, the movie started.
He finished the hot dog and sucked down the juice. Laughing and giggling, he seemed to really like the movie.
And, then…IT happened.
Nothing prepared me for this. NOTHING. It was just awful. And, for a three year old, I can see why he reacted the way did. This was so bad, we had to leave the movie.
We were only about 45 minutes into the film.
So, what happened? What was so awful? What scared him so bad?
Yep. The actor. He played the villain in the film and he looked pretty damned scary. His makeup was so good, Chase could not look at him. Nothing I said could convince him that it just a picture on the screen and not real. Nope, nothing.
So, we left.
I managed to get him calm and took him for ice cream and then we went home.
Later that evening, he walks into my office at home and climbs up on my lap. Gives me a big hug and proceeds to let me know that, even though he got really scared, he still had fun with me. He gave me a big hug.
At that moment, I knew this Dad thing was going be awesome. The love and utter contentment I felt, at that moment, made everything else secondary. He was the center of my world. Making him feel that way, even as scared as he was, that he could still feel safe and have fun, well, that’s what it is all about.