In the Fall of 2009, my husband and I sold our first home in Wilton, Iowa. Because we had yet to buy a new home, we moved in with my parents, bringing along our one-year-old son and our dog. Oh, and did I mention I was pregnant with my second son, too? Yes, it was a crazy time. A crowded, crazy, cozy time. My son Sam loved living with his grandparents, and they loved having him there. No matter what time of day, or what type of weather, my little boy had someone there to play with him. Four adults at his beckon call, ready to play with toys, or take walks to the bridge to throw rocks, or climb up on the couch to read a pile of books.
One night, I got out of the shower and came downstairs to find Sam and my dad watching a movie. Sam’s first movie. He had never really watched TV before that moment. But that was about to change. The movie was called The Country Bears—a Disney movie about Beary Bearington, a “real” bear who finds out he was adopted by his human parents and runs away from home, only to find the members of a famous band called the Country Bears. Let’s just say, I had never seen a movie like this before. My son was mesmerized. He sat there on his grandpa’s lap, his little eyes glued to the screen. When the movie was over, he looked at my dad and said “again?”. Well, grandpas always give in, don’t they? Little did we know…
For the next few months, we heard the word “again” a lot. The movie had been a special feature on the Starz package, and when it was about to expire, my dad quickly purchased a copy from WalMart. Thanks, Dad.
In May of 2010, we welcomed Sam’s little brother Cooper into our family. We had just signed the papers on our new house, and my little Sam’s world was about to change. The day he came to the hospital to meet his brother, we held the baby out to him and he hit him. True story. When we brought the baby home to my parents’ house, he hit him again. I was a total wreck. I had already been worried this would happen. I myself was an only child, and I can’t imagine what I would have done if my parents had brought home a new baby. And so there we were—me, a post-baby hormonal mess, crying on the couch while I watched my mom and my family pack up my things and move them for me because I had just given birth and was helpless. And my little Sam, watching his “Bears” seventeen times a day while everything around him changed. What a sad, pathetic mess.
For the first few weeks of Cooper’s life, we had a routine: me, my mom, and my two boys. Get dressed, load the car with boxes, make sure we had the Country Bears movie, and head to the new house to unpack. Sam would watch the movie, and Cooper would spend the day getting held or laying in his Moses basket, for fear of what his big brother might do to him. (I realize how terrible this sounds…)
As we adjusted to life as a family of four, and life without my parents, Sam became less and less dependent on his beloved Country Bears. My dad bought him posters and little Country Bears toys for his second birthday, which made him very, very excited and he still plays with them today. But after a few more months, he had moved on to Shark Tale. And Shrek. And then back to Shark Tale. Etc, etc.
A few months ago, I found the Country Bears movie on the shelf and asked the boys (now 4 ½ and almost 3) if they wanted to watch it. As I sat there with them, watching the screen, an entirely different movie was playing in my head: A movie with my little boy, my only child, sitting with his grandpa. A movie with my newborn second son, snuggled in my lap as I listened to those familiar songs, watched the movie to the end, and then started it over again as my toddler whispered “again”. If only I could play that movie all over again. If only I could sit on the couch and hold my little only child with his pile of books, or snuggle my tiny little newborn Cooper, with his perfectly round face and his beautiful dark hair. If I could, I would watch that movie seventeen times a day.
I know that The Country Bears will always be one of my favorite movies. I also know that, although it is not a sad movie, from this day forward I will probably never be able to watch it without crying. And that’s OK. Those bears, those songs, that movie, got our little family through some very hard, life-changing moments in our lives together.
PS: This is not an invitation for you to go and watch the Country Bears. It is, in fact, a terribly stupid movie. Do not waste your time. Believe me.
PPS: I should also add that Sam grew up to be an amazing big brother to Cooper, and now to his sister Nora. Just like I always knew he would.
What about you? Is there a movie that your kids make you watch ALL the time? Misery loves company, so let’s hear it!