With my kids.
You heard me. Don’t pretend that you don’t do it too, sometimes. You know, when your kids can’t sleep, or are simply pushing the envelope on their bedtime, and you just can’t be bothered to fight them on it. Or maybe one of them has a cold and wants to snuggle on the couch, or has woken up from a nightmare, or something. For me, usually, it’s that they’re pushing the envelope on bedtime, and for whatever reason, I cave, and then there we are, on the sofa, curled up in front of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, debating the relative merits of Mickey to Goofy and Goofy to Minnie and how it is that Minnie can walk in those shoes.
And you know what? It’s fine. Great, even. I cherish those evenings, because those are the evenings during which we have some of our best conversations. Those are the evenings in which we’re just there, together, hanging out, chatting idly. We’re not concentrating on the narrative arc of Toy Story 3, or tussling over whose show to watch, or arguing over whether it wouldn’t be better, really, to be attending to chores or homework or getting out of doors. When it’s late in the evening, and it’s past everyone’s bedtime, the only question is: is Jake really a pirate? And, these: how do I get to Neverland, to become a pirate? Why does Minnie wear such big shoes? Why doesn’t Mommy wear shoes like that? Would she wear them if she lived in Disneyland? Where would you rather live, Neverland or Disneyland? These are the idle questions of small children who are avoiding their bedtime. These are the idle questions that spark unexpected conversations, and the kind of sweet, silly storytelling that only happens when the storytellers are drowsy, and speak in whispers.
This is what I love about those evenings: the stories that we tell together, to each other, and with each other, snuggled tightly, lit by the cathode glow of the screen.
Disney Junior’s Night Light programming was developed for moms like me, burrowing into their stories with their little night owls, late into the evening, and it takes as a core principle the idea that moms like me — women like me, parents like me — love stories, as both consumers and creators, as viewers and readers and listeners, and as performers and writers and tellers. It honors that, and it uses that, as a poont of engagement. But the engagement is not just with me, the mom who is curled up on the sofa with her children, biding her time until they — finally, finally — doze off. The engagement is with me, the mom who is actively there with her small people, reveling their thereness, and with all of the possibility that entails. The cuddling, the snuggling, the questions asked and answered and asked and answered again; the small, unguarded moments of inspiration (I would like to make-believe myself a castle just like that one, Mommy, except with walls made of candy!), and the quiet, sweetly crazy stories that we weave, together, out of those moments. That’s who it’s engaging. The mom who finds beauty, music and magic in what could too simply be dismissed as slacking or lazing or just not being bothered.
The mom is who is, actually, not being bothered — the mom who has found her moment of delightful stillness with her children and is enjoying it to its fullest.
Watch Night Light, Every Night Starting at 9:25:/8:25c, on Disney Junior