The trauma of Movie Night.

We decided that once a week we'd have a Movie Night. Actually I decided it. This was my stupid idea, conjured up in the name of family togetherness. I pictured Cuddling Under Blankets While Enjoying Popcorn and a Fun Movie. Usually it's more like Henry Watching Some Asinine Video He Insisted On While Scott and I Sleep on the Couch. Family togetherness!

If Henry figures out that there's a movie I want to rent, he will fight me to the death. Heaven forfend that he might get a whiff of the movie somehow being worthwhile. Or educational. He would rather rent the crappy movies from the library, like The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, starring Hal Holbrook (and Dixie Carter!), which we have rented approximately 30 times. He'd choose an instructional video on crocheting techniques, if it keeps me from renting one of those loathsome classics.

I didn't consult him this time. (I'm a slow learner, but I do eventually make progress.) I just went and done rented a movie without even getting his say-so. "Henry, I got us a fun movie," I told him on Saturday morning. Big mistake. What I should have said is, "Henry, I rented a movie that I can't stand, but oh well, I'll just sleep, no biggie." THEN his interest would be piqued. Why do I have such a perverse child?

"Noooo," he whined.

"You don't even know what it is, and you're saying no?" And I'm surprised for what reason, exactly?

"What is it." He glared at me.

"Robin Hood! [The 1938 version, if you must know.] It's got cool sword fights and—"

Oh, but he was already on the ground, wailing. Actual tears fell upon the area rug.

"I don’t even like sword fights," he screamed.

My god, what kind of a monster am I? Forcing my child to witness such a spectacle?

"If you don't like the movie, you don't have to watch it. It's a movie."

He thought about this. "Okay, so if I don't like it, you'll turn it off and we can watch something else. "

"Noooo. If you don't like it you can get up and do something else while we watch."

He threw himself back down to the ground. Not to be able to turn it off halfway through! The agony! I pictured Henry at a movie theatre, standing up on his seat. "ATTENTION. I AM NOT ENJOYING THIS MOVIE. PLEASE PUT ON ANOTHER ONE. PREFERABLY THAT ONE WITH HAL HOLBROOK."

Fast forward to Sunday night. After announcing that he wouldn't watch it, well, maybe he would, but only for a minute; he guessed he could try watching it, maybe, but if he didn't like it he didn't have to watch it, right? Right? We sat down to watch the movie.

Much to my non-surprise, he loved it. (Actually it looked as if he might hate it just to spite me, but his resolve weakened in the first five minutes of the film.) Parents of five-year-olds: rent Robin Hood. Even if your child fights you on it, even as he weeps and shrieks, know that he will love it. How could it miss? There's sword play! Quarterstaff fencing! Errol Flynn, laughing his lusty laugh, his arms akimbo! Makeout sessions with Maid Marian! Henry didn't even flinch at the necking. "They're going to be married," he observed. Yes, son, because once your lips fall onto another's, you are betrothed.

This morning Henry entered my bedroom with something behind his back. "I want to congratulate you," he said, "for picking the bestest movie ever. Here is your Lego guy." He handed the guy to me. "This Lego guy is for you only. No one else can play with it."

"Thanks, Henry. You know what would also be a nice reward? Maybe next time I pick out a movie, you'll trust me."

He looked at me. "Your Lego guy has a special helmet," he said, and ran from the room.

My prediction for next week's movie night: an unsung animated gem starring Hal Holbrook. You heard it here first.