Popcorn, Movies, and Trampolines: Kids Live in the Moment

Brontë is bouncing on a trampoline while eating a giant bowl of popcorn and watching Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Never thought of that particular combination, but it looks pretty fun.

Brontë loves popcorn and since it is a relatively healthy (whole grain) snack, we like to make it often, particularly when settling down to watch a movie together. We have one of those nifty stovetop poppers where you turn a handle to churn it after putting a tablespoon or so of oil in the pan. It pops dramatically and Brontë gets really excited.
We figure that popping it ourselves means we can use a decent oil, like avocado or olive, and we like to buy fancy heirloom grains. They taste more flavorful, so you don’t need to add a bunch of butter. Microwave popcorn is a little more convenient, but I read that it’s horrible for you–they are packed with hydrogenated fats and weird plastic chemicals that give you cancer (I shudder to think of all the microwave popcorn I’ve eaten over my lifetime).
The family likes to get a giant bowl of popcorn then sit down to watch a kid-friendly movie, usually on Sundays. Apart from DVD’s we have bought, Netflix online offers an endless array of kid movies, so we definitely are getting our money’s worth from that subscription. A couple great movies we have seen lately are “A Cat in Paris,” and “A Monster in Paris.”
“A Cat in Paris” is about a cat that hangs out with a cat burglar and befriends a little girl who lost her father and is too sad to talk. The little girl’s mother is a police officer. The animation is very cool, reminiscent of film noir, and I like that the mom is police officer because I want to expose my daughter to the idea that women can be adventurous and brave as well as sweet and pretty (we need some counterbalance to the unavoidable Disney princess monopoly). Brontë, of course, likes that it stars a little girl.
“A Monster in Paris” was a fabulous accidental find. It’s a French kids movie, but dubbed in English (which works well for cartoons). It has shadows of “Phantom of the Opera” and Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis.” The animation is spectacular and the music is beautiful. The characters are drawn with surprising complexity for a children’s film. The message, a la “Beauty and the Beast,” is that it is character that makes one a monster, not appearance. I love Disney films, don’t get me wrong, but given that you can generally tell the good characters from the bad by counting the warts, I’m hoping to temper my kid’s perspective from a pure good=pretty and bad=ugly universe by mixing things up with films like these.
At any rate, as bonding as it is to watch movies and eat out of a communal popcorn bowl, Brontë’s father has started giving her a personal popcorn bowl out of recent concern about the amount of time she spends with her fingers up her nose. This is understandable, but Brontë can’t help but notice the disparity between her little yellow plastic bowl and the giant shiny silver family bowl. She keeps plotting about how to get her hands on the massive silver bowl, which usually involves her running away from the kitchen with the big bowl, laughing, as soon as we set it down on the counter.
So now, she is bouncing on her trampoline, watching “Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang” while holding onto the silver popcorn bowl like a giant diamond beach ball. Her father is telling her he likes popcorn, that she should share the popcorn, and asking for some popcorn.
Meanwhile, Brontë struggles with the ethical dilemma of Sharing Her Popcorn vs. Having all the Popcorn. You can see her face contort as she tries hard to share while not wanting to relinquish her treasure. “No!” she yells, then slowly… slowly… pushes the bowl toward her dad so he can grab a handful. He barely puts his fingers in the bowl before she snatches it back and starts stuffing her face with as much popcorn as she can manage. Then he asks for popcorn, and she reluctantly drops a single kernel in his palm.
She looks so happy bouncing on the trampoline while eating popcorn that I couldn’t bring myself to stop her, although it’s easy to see how this would end. It was just a matter of time before she tripped and flung popcorn all over the room. But somehow, I was compelled to let it all play out.

Now we are having an impromptu lesson about Picking Up All the Popcorn.


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