Lately I’ve been trying to show my children classic movies to experience for the first time. Of course, it is wonderful family time, as the three of us kick back, pop some popcorn and take in the flick. Movies we’ve watched in recent months are some of my all-time favorites from my childhood, such as E.T. and Harry and the Henderson’s.
In our most recent movie night, we sat down with Grease.
Now, admittedly, there are a few “adult topics” in that one, but I was feeling confident they would mostly fly over the kid’s heads and they would focus more on the music. As a whole, I was correct, but—as is his right—Grease did not grab Ethan’s attention and about halfway through he decided to have alone time with his video game.
So, Alex and I had the opportunity to cuddle and watch the rest of the movie. As each song came on, she would say, “Oh, I’ve heard this song!” and she was really having a good time with Dad. Of course, the karaoke singer in me couldn’t hold back the entire time and I may or may not have performed “Summer Nights” and “You’re the One That I Want.”
Yet, as the movie was ending and the credits began to roll, Alex had an odd look on her face. She opened and closed her mouth a few times, as if trying to choose the right words very thoughtfully.
When she finally spoke, the question that came from her mouth—seemingly from her very soul—absolutely floored me.
“Daddy,” she said.
I turned my full attention to her since I could tell she was trying to work something out and needed help.
“Why did Sandy change at the end of the movie? I liked her more before she changed.”
I was stunned by the simple brilliance of the question, quite simply not expecting something that profound to come from my little girl. This was one of those moments, in fact, where I realize she’s becoming a wonderful young girl who, I believe, will be an amazing woman someday.
Then, I began to really think about the answer to her question. Why did Sandy change into the leather wearing, big haired Sandy at the end of the movie? Well, obviously, she wanted to land John Travolta as the “one that she wants”—see what I did there?—and, to do so, she had to change herself into something that we haven’t seen from her throughout the entire movie before then.
This sparked the conversation between my daughter and myself where I explained all of that to her, but also reminded her how times have changed. I reminded her of how women can do anything men can do and to never limit herself. If she has a dream, go fight for it and achieve it.
While I’ve long-considered myself above average in this kind of conversation with my history of devotion and advocacy for the WNBA—as well as my voting history and future—Alex’s question reminded me I still have a lot to learn. After all, with all the times I’ve seen Grease in my life, I NEVER pondered the same question my 8-year old daughter felt obligated to ask. Not once.
It sometimes seems cliché to say parents learn just as much from their children as the children do from the adults. Honestly, it is over-hyped, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t moments such as this where the child has the opportunity to spark more learning and growth in the parent.
It is those times that must be cherished and taken advantage of as the true opportunity they are. We all get set in our ways and sometimes fresh, young eyes can innocently remind us of a different perspective or remind us to never settle when growing. Keep pushing.