The Little Mermaid Revisited
Recently I found myself with three loads of laundry to fold and a strong desire to watch The Little Mermaid. Don’t ask me why. The DVD was released from that silly supply/demand-manipulating “vault” this year, so Disney has been marketing the stew out of it, and marketing works on me. Whatever.
Anyway, I said to my kids, “Guys, I’m going to fold laundry in the den. Come with me. We’re going to watch The Little Mermaid. What do ya say?”
“Mom, seriously? That is for babies.” Carrie said to me.
“Yeah, girl babies,” William added.
“It is not!” I said. “I was a teenager when this movie came out, and my friends and I watched it all the time.” That is the truth. I was damn-near old enough to drive a car when The Little Mermaid hit theaters, and I couldn’t get enough of it. It made me realize how much I wanted red hair (and made an unnamed guy friend realize that he was somewhat attracted to animated fish women).
“You can watch it,” they said. “We’ll stay in the playroom.”
There was a time not so long ago when the kids loved this movie. Moreover, they loved watching it with me. They would ask me repeatedly to join them on the couch so that we could watch it together. I rarely did it.
The kids were so demanding as toddlers. The only time I had for chores, cooking, talking on the phone, the only time I ever had to myself was their television time. Joining them in front of the t.v. was counter to the very reason I had parked them in front of it in the first place.
Unbeknownst to me, one of those Mermaid screenings, one of the showings on which I chose to pass, turned out to be the final screening. I guess I thought I would have more opportunities.
I still have the same chores. Towels to fold. Meals to prepare. The chores are exactly as they were two, five, ten years ago. The kids are not.
“Just this one time,” I pleaded.
The children huddled together. They talked quietly amongst themselves, then nodded to one another.
“Make us nachos,” Carrie said.
“Beg your pardon?”
She crossed her arms. “Make us nachos and we’ll watch The Little Mermaid with you.”
Carrie located the DVD while I grated cheese and preheated the oven. Make us nachos, indeed. Who do these kids think they are?
The nachos were tasty. That is the good news. The bad news is that our movie night did not reignite in my kids a desire to watch The Little Mermaid over and over again. It was a very you-can’t-go-home-again type experience.
William brought a stack of paper and a handful of crayons to the den. He drew throughout the entire movie in order to keep himself entertained. He sang along with most of the songs, but he looked down at his art more than he looked up at the screen.
Carrie made quick work of the nachos, then turned a critical eye toward this once-loved film and asked me a series of obnoxious questions.
“How can Ariel sing and talk underwater? Wouldn’t she drown?”
“Maybe she has gills.”
“She doesn’t. I don’t see any, and if she had gills they would be on her face or her neck, and they’re not.”
“I don’t know, Carrie.”
“Is she an amphibian?”
“She’s a mermaid.”
“It is just so unrealistic that she could stay underwater like that and not die.”
“Percy Jackson can stay underwater that long.”
“Yeah, but Percy Jackson is a demigod, Mom.”
We agreed to disagree. I was grateful to find some common ground later in the movie when Ursula the Sea Witch made her entrance.
“Mom, look at Ursula’s arms! Yuck. She should wear a cardigan, don’t you think?”
“I sure do, sweetie. I sure do.”
Before you remind me that Carrie and William’s childhoods are far from over, that they are still pretty young and that we have lots of fun still ahead, let me say, I know. I get that. When they are driving cars and asking for money, I will miss these happy days when their time and company can be bought with corn chips. I get that. When we are arguing about speeding tickets and lost cell phone privileges, I will miss arguing about a mermaid’s respiratory system. I don’t mean to be nostalgic for their childhoods before they’re even over, but it is just that I look back at what we’ve been through together, what I have grown to miss, and… I don’t know. Verbose as I am, I can’t quite find the words to express the feeling.
Truly, I am pleased that my kids are healthy, growing and changing. On an intellectual level, I am grateful that they are becoming so independent. I suppose that is the whole point of parenting; to care for these kids in such a way that they will be able to care for themselves when the time comes. That they will be able to care for their own children. Wouldn’t it be nice, though, if our lives were like our Little Mermaid DVD – that any time we longed for a particular stage in our children’s’ development, for a habit they had, a song they used to sing, a face they would make, that any time we longed to be hugged by their tiny little arms, we could simply go to the Main Menu of our lives and select those scenes?