Friday, June 29, 2012

Return to sender

Took the nephews with us to watch The Amazing Spider-Man. While I enjoyed the movie -- and considering it's reboot of a familiar story, it still manages a fresh, new perspective on the character and motivations of Peter Parker without looking like a rehash -- it was more significant for me that the few hours spent with the boys taught me a little bit about parenting, and how terrible I would be at it.

Two parameters clearly set this situation from a normal night of parental supervision: the first is the short-term contact with the promise of return-to-sender at the end of it, and second, there's no biological imperative to particularly look after their welfare. Social obligation, maybe, but definitely not biological.

The evening went more or less like this: as soon as they got into the car, our conversation turned mainly towards me questioning their every utterance and making them think about what they had just said, examine their assumptions and evaluate their conclusions. Note that they are still in elementary school, but still they were quite game to engage in logical thrust-and-parry. Now everybody's more appreciative of the criteria determining the difference between "near" and "far" as diametrically oppositional yet relative concepts, or more confused... I'm not really sure.

It took a neutral third-party to ask if I had considered the rating of the movie for which I was bringing kids to. I just assumed they'd be let in with no trouble, and indeed they were, but a more conscientious parent would have done some checking first, wouldn't they?

Fortunately, they had a wholesome dinner prepared by their grandma. I was prepared to stuff them with a burger and fries if they were hungry. I still stuffed them, anyway, with a Wendy's vanilla Frosty while we waited for the cinema to let us in. The boys were trying to outdo one another shovelling increasingly bigger spoonsful of frozen dessert into their mouths until the inevitable occurred. They experienced brain-freeze, I had a laugh. And that was before the medium caramel popcorn and Coke that I let them share during the movie.

On hindsight, that extra sugar that late at night might have sent them bouncing off the walls until the wee hours, so perhaps that wasn't really a good parenting strategy either. Not if I wanted unbroken sleep and not have to deal with nightmares and beasties-under-the-bed every five minutes or so. Wonder how their parents handled it after I deposited them at their doorstep and waved goodbye-thanks-for-a-lovely-evening-hope-yours-went-well-too?

To be honest, I did have a good time with the boys, but probably because I could stick to my nutty uncle mode without the need to be a parent. Hat's off to you if you are one! :)

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