Wednesday, August 6, 2008

To Watch or Not To Watch

For a few weeks now, I've been writing for a site http://www.thefatherlife.com. It's a site written by and for dads.

Lately I've been writing movie reviews for them. Here is my latest on WALL-E and the new MUMMY movie. I feel lucky because most of what I've written for them has made the cover of the site. This time the editor of the site referenced my review in his own note.

I created a rating system for the movies I review that's a bit different than what's out there. Besides the typical 4 star rating, I give it a WORTH IT! or WASTED! rating.

Here's the criteria:

The rating system is for dads who need to know one thing- Is this movie WORTH IT to:

* Pack up the kids, bags, etc and trek to the theater - or
* Find a babysitter so Dad can have a date night - or
* Cash in brownie points with the Mrs. so he can go with his buddies

If it doesn’t fit these simple criteria, the movie gets the WASTED rating, which means - don’t waste the precious time you have, wait for video/cable when you can squeeze it between chores, work and sleep.

I thought that would be pretty unique for a site focusing on fatherhood, because for many parents, it doesn't matter as much if the movie is good or not, but is it worth the time and or/energy to actually go?

Single/childless people may not understand what that means, but when you have to worry about babysitting, make sure the kids are fed, changed and clothed before you leave, making sure the cell is charged in case there's an emergency, that you have the cash to pay the babysitter and/or are willing to return the favor to the person giving you the free night pass, a night out becomes a very conscious and purposeful decision. On the flip side, if you decide to take the kids with you, a whole other series of complications arise - is the theater kid friendly, do the bags have diapers/wipes/juice boxes? What if the kid freaks out at the movie? How close are the bathrooms? Do we eat before or after the movie?

For some parents, no movie is worth all this effort or worry, at least not for the first couple of years. My brother in law for example, once "marveled" at how his sister and I can still go out at all because they haven't seen a movie in two years...You can imagine my facial expression when I heard that.

Babies do change everything. However, a baby need not make you a prisoner in your own home. For one's own mental health and the health of the relationship, parents NEED to find time to simply go out - both together and separate from each other.

Movies may not be the escape of choice - it could be dinners, pick up games in the park, or even a spa visit for a message. Couples need to support each other by taking turns taking care of the kids so the other person can have some "alone time" and more importantly, work hard to find time together.

The challenge is finding something that is worth the time it takes to responsibly make the decision to go. Hence my new rating. It's an awful feeling for a parent to go through all that effort to try and enjoy something as an adult, and realize you've wasted your time because the movie/play/restaurant was either bad, just OK, or could have easily been replaced by something you could have done at home.

Still, the effort needs to be made, and hopefully my reviews and my WORTH IT/WASTED ratings will help some dads decide how to spend the few moments they have to enjoy something for themselves.