Father’s Day has come and gone, again. All of that dad-centric attention that fills your TV screens with grill ads and sports car spots has settled back into business as usual and I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a slight hangover effect from all of that focus on fathers. It’s a sharp drop off; from pedestal-worthy patriarch to pedestrian snack-bag packer. Leaves a little taste of disappointment in my mouth not entirely unlike the feeling that befell me as a child, when my every-other-weekend stay with my own father ended and he’d drop me back off at the curb in front of my mom’s apartment and I’d have to shake it off and get on with business as usual; the long and lacking two weeks until we’d see each other again.
You see, I was your “typical” 80’s “latch key kid” and like others of my ilk I was an only child of a divorced couple, raised by a single mother and often left to my own microwave dinner and television viewing devices. Even babysitters would plop the lot of us babysitees down in front of the boob tube so’s not to miss their soaps, or to placate us with cartoon tomfoolery. But everything was different at my dad’s place.
At my dad’s place, movies and television shows were not background noise or the hypnotic swing of a pocket watch in front of my eyes. They were an experience. They were conversation starters. They were brilliant scripts to reenact, stage left of the couch, arms raised and voices projecting memorized lines to the back of the house. Almost as soon as I got there for the weekend we’d scour his wall of Betamax cassettes and select a well-worn favorite, unsheathe it and feed it into the famished mouth of the VCR. We’d bounce lines back and forth and upstage each other around the room and settle down for the poignant parts and rise again to a crescendo when the heroes gave their magnificent monologues at the end.
Saturday morning cereal bowls with dad and the cartoons I’d waited all week for. Two weeks, really.
Or, often enough, we’d take our show on the road and swing by Grandma’s house to pick up my younger cousin. Just the three of us in a van the size of life itself, cruising down Route 50 to the nearest Drive-In theater to catch the late-night, Star Wars triple feature. Fist-fulls of popcorn laughed back out onto the floorboards when the three of us were cracking tireless jokes. Long moments of knowing silence when my dad would use the movie’s protagonist to impart some sacred life lesson. Tears when it ended. Elation when the next film began.
With my father no longer around to reminisce with, these are the memories I hope to never forfeit to time.
Now, we live in a decisively different day and age. Too much screen time is considered taboo and we parents filter through available content with a fine toothed comb. I’m no different, and while we don’t formally dictate structured “screen time” just yet, we do mostly keep it occasional and educational. More importantly, we engage with our children while watching movies and TV shows. We interact, reenact and take opportunities to instruct. All of which I learned from dear old dad.
Que Netflix, the perfect platform for shared viewing experiences with my kids and you don’t even have to “Be kind. Rewind!” (My dad would get it.)
Not only does Netflix do the vetting for you, with concise and consistent age-appropriateness ratings- sorting offerings into categories by age group- but they even set you up with a customizable Kids profile so your young “channel surfers” never happen upon anything they shouldn’t have.
What’s better, Netflix has recently released its Heirloom Collection of re-hatched classics and rebooted beauties from my youth! (see slideshow below) It’s Saturday Morning Cartoons and Family Movie Night all over again.
My girls aren’t quite ready for Star Wars yet, or mature enough to leave the slapstick crash-and-boom of Inspector Gadget on the screen and out of our living room, but I must admit that I can hardly wait. Won’t be long now, and in the meantime Netflix has plenty of instructional content for us like The Magic School Bus and some preschool gems from the Leapfrog learning series.
Yep, Father’s Day is over, but the joys of Fatherhood never seem to cease. We’ve been getting into Jake and The Neverland Pirates on Netflix these days; retelling the lessons learned in sock-puppets above the couch; making paper pirate hats and swashbuckling about the backyard. With a little help from The At-Work Mama, my girls even made a JATNLP boat card for me for Father’s Day. I need to find a bottle big enough to fit it in and keep it forever!
Check out this slideshow of some of the awesome Heirloom Collection titles now available on Netflix. While Netflix did provide me with a complimentary subscription and viewing hardware for review purposes, all of the opinions expressed as a member of the #StreamTeam are solely my own or those of my family members. Get your own subscription to Netflix here for an unbelievably low monthly price. Stay tuned for my upcoming #StreamTeam post where I tell the tale of that one time when I actually was a pirate.