Movie Night

Silly me.  I told my teenage sons about the liquidation sale at our local movie rental store. 
I saw it as an opportunity to purchase a childhood favorite or two. They took it as an invitation to load up on their favorite action-packed thrillers, even though we’ve never made a habit of purchasing movies.
Seven movies and $80 later, my first comment was less than enthusiastic: “They weren’t really on sale, were they?”  
Son number one smiled and walked away. Son number two showed me the receipt and launched into a logical explanation about how movies were bundled into different price packages, how their top choices were in different packages, and therefore, the need for seven movies.
 “Yeah, these movies were $15 each,” he conceded, “but these were only about $6 each, so it averages out.
“And they’re the BEST!” he continued. “Especially thisone – it won lots of awards. You gotta watch it with us!”
When the kids were young, Ken and I set aside Friday nights as Family Movie Night, and each of us took a turn choosing the movie. Some were award winners, and some had a message Ken and I wanted the kids to hear; most  were chosen simply because they made us happy.
But a five-year age difference between the oldest and youngest child meant our family movie eventually transitioned into two.  Ken introduced the boys to his favorite movies about the Civil War and WW II, while my daughter and I sang along with Disney’s animated classics. The boys migrated toward action-packed crime and sci-fi thrillers, the girls to musicals and drama.
So I’m probably one of only a few who didn’t see Avatar when it hit the big screen in 2009 and one of an even smaller number who didn’t know what it was about. And even though my 17-year-old and I spend a lot of weekend TV time together cheering for our favorite college football team, I don’t really know why he would consider one movie better than another.
“You know,” he said later that evening, shortly after the opening scene, “this movie is a metaphor about what we did to the Native Americans. Dad told me that when we watched it in the theatre. Just watch–it’s pretty obvious–and wait till you see the special effects. They’re incredible.”
Before I knew it, I had spent nearly two hours sitting beside him on the couch, engrossed in the story and mesmerized by the special effects. I could have passed on some of the warfare, crude language, and profanity, but his interpretation of the storyline made sense, and he was right about the special effects; they were spectacular.
But, it didn’t really matter whether I liked the movie or not. I needed to watch it.
A mom and her teenage son don’t always live in the same galaxy.
On some days, my 17-year-old’s world is orbiting at the same rate and in the same direction as mine. There are no asteroids flying toward us, no out-of-the-ordinary gravitational pulls that sway us off course. Other days, however, it seems our paths are on a collision course, and there’s nothing strong enough to pull us back into two safe orbits – at least, not until we acknowledge the other’s world.
Those are the days, in the future, that I’ll think of Jake Sully. He’s the soldier in the movie whose avatar is sent to the planet’s indigenous Na’vi tribe. For the colonel, he’s to spy on the enemy and help devise a plan of destruction. For the scientist, he’s to befriend the Na’vi and learn about their way of life. The collision was inevitable.
“The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.”
       Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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