How I Accidentally Discovered the Secret to Putting My Kids to Bed

image: flickr

I don’t have cable TV, so the kids and I watch a lot of Netflix. My oldest daughter will get hooked on some series and obsessively watch 5 seasons worth of episodes in a week. My youngest kids get their fill of SpongeBob, or Good Luck Charlie, or whatever kid show they’re into until they’ve watched every episode 497,000 times. Each. (Yes, I can pretty much quote every episode of Phineas and Ferb, word-for-word, and in fact, had the Ducky Momo song in my head for so long yesterday that I contemplated stabbing myself in the brain with a fork to make it stop. But I digress.

So, we were flipping around Netflix last night after dinner, and I saw that West Side Story is on there now.

“Oooo, West Side Story! I haven’t seen that in forever. I want to see it!” I announced.

“What’s it about?” asked my kids.

“Well, it’s a musical about 2 rival gangs. It’s got a ‘star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet,’ sort of theme. It’s a musical. It’s got songs like dada-da-da-da, dada-da-da-da-dada.” I proceeded humming a lovely medley of songs from the play. My kids looked at me like I had 2 heads. Or like I was a middle-aged mom humming show tunes. (The looks are pretty much the same for either scenario.)

As we watched the movie, my kids supplied the running commentary.

“Why do they keep snapping?”

Because it’s a musical.

“Why are they singing?”

Because it’s a musical.

“Why are they dancing?”

Because it’s a musical.

“Did people used to just walk along and start singing and dancing like that in the old days?”

No, it’s a musical. People randomly break into choreographed dance numbers while singing in musicals.


That’s what makes it a musical.

“That’s weird.”

It’s not weird; it’s awesome! I mean, I guess it’s a little weird if you think about it. I mean, people don’t generally start singing and dancing in sync as they’re walking down the street. Unless it’s a flash mob. But that’s another thing altogether. Still, weird or not, musicals are awesome. Maybe I’m biased, because I’m a Thespian and have some great memories from all the years I was in theater and all the plays in which I acted.

Shortly into the movie, the Jets and the Sharks started dance-fighting to The Jet Song. The kids instantly piped up.

“Hey! That’s from Alex the Lion! That’s from Madagascar!”

Yep, West Side Story, made in 1961, stole this from a cartoon lion voiced by Ben Stiller.

“Why are they dancing again?”

It’s a musical.

“Is he singing about her name???”


“What if her name wasn’t Maria? What if it was Broomhilda?”

That would be hard to rhyme.

“Broomhilda is Ponyo’s real name! Can we watch Ponyo? This movie is weird. People don’t really sing and dance all the time like that.”

So by your reasoning, singing throughout a movie is weird, but there’s nothing weird about a goldfish who turns into a person. I see.

Thankfully, when the intermission rolled around it was bedtime, and for once, my kids didn’t argue about not getting to finish the movie before going to bed. I was able to finish the movie in peace, and my kids went to bed without stalling. I call that a win-win! Tonight I think I’ll put on The Phantom of the Opera, and when I’ve exhausted Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musicals, I’ll roll through Rodgers and Hammerstein’s entire repertoire. Bedtime’s going to be a breeze for weeks!

Want to read more from Dawn? Get her books Because I Said So (and other tales from a less-than-perfect parent) and You’ll Lose the Baby Weight (and other lies about pregnancy and childbirth) here!

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