One of the selfish joys of parenting is introducing your kids to stuff you love. You get to see something you love, you get to see your kid enjoy it… or you get to see your kid cast it aside as not worth their time.
The Bug’s earliest introductions to movies were all Pixar and Miyazaki. Yes, I am an animation snob. I love them, and if I have to sit through kid-friendly entertainment it might as well be something I enjoy.
Now that Graham is older and starting to branch out, he likes to have a wide variety to choose from. So I try to scout out things that will appeal to his current interests. Or things that will distract him from his current interests.
So I would love to tone down the trains. I hate Thomas. Not just because it’s all trains all the time, but because all the trains are big fat jerks who are all mean to each other. The simplest alternative is animals. The Bug can make all the animal sounds and is getting better at identifying animals by name.
It was with this mindset that I figured I’d try introducing the Bug to Dumbo. I’d grown up with it. It has all kinds of animals. And (bonus!) there’s a train. Oh, and there are lots of baby animals. We are really pushing “baby” right now. Since we’re expecting one and all. The Bug has learned that there is a baby in my belly and he will pat it and say, “Hi, baby.” He points at babies he sees and says, “Baby.” He has a baby doll and one of his programs in therapy involves hugging and kissing the baby doll. So Dumbo is perfect, right?
Not so much.
If you haven’t watched Dumbo recently, let me fill you in.
It’s only an hour long and it goes basically like this.
2 minutes of credits
1 adorable song with storks and all kinds of baby animals that is soul-meltingly sweet
5 minutes of stork delivering baby elephant to Mrs. Jumbo.
And then there’s far too many minutes of gut-wrenching awfulness.
Elephants are mean to Dumbo.
Black workers sing a song about working and then wasting their money. They don’t have any faces. Ah, Disney racism.
Kids are mean to Dumbo.
Dumbo’s mom is taken away.
Dumbo destroys the elephant act at the circus and is officially rejected by the elephants.
Dumbo is sad.
Dumbo gets brought in to the clown act. The clowns are mean to Dumbo.
Dumbo visits his mother who is chained up and cannot see him. Mothers everywhere sob their eyes out.
More clown mean-ness.
Dumbo gets drunk and hallucinates for 10 minutes. (A BABY gets DRUNK. BABY! DRUNK!)
The hungover Dumbo meets some crows, who are yet another example of classic Disney racism. The crows are mean to Dumbo.
And then for 5 minutes Dumbo flies and is happy.
So basically, you’ve got maybe 15 happy minutes in a 60 minute movie. (And that’s a stretch.)
But I haven’t been able to cut the Bug off from Dumbo.
Because he calls it, “Baby.” It is too adorable. I must give in.
The moral of the story is don’t trust your memory. All I remembered of Dumbo was storks, babies, flying elephants, and a circus. You may want to invest a little time in those movies you remember so fondly to re-watch before you find yourself subjected to them constantly.
What have you introduced to your kids that you regretted?