When I think about the difference between my childhood and that of my children, it basically boils down to The Sound of Music.
I am old enough to remember when The Sound of Music was only aired once a year, often around the holidays, on regular television, with commercials, from roughly 8pm until midnight. We usually turned it on late. My parents made me go to bed before it was over. But, in-between, I got the gist of things. A little Do-Re-Mi. Some 16 going on 17. And lots and lots of nuns. And if we missed it, there was always next year.
Of course, with the advent of Betas and VHS, it became possible to rent The Sound of Music experience. When the tape was available at the library or the local rental place, and when my family could agree that that was what we wanted to watch, we could bring the movie home and view it a couple of times. I could watch my favorite scenes again and again, to memorize the kids’ mannerisms, and the choreography. Mom could watch it with her own bowl of popcorn after we had all gone up to bed. Together, we could even fast-forward through the nun songs – which is super-funny, and if you have never done that, you should stop reading and go try it right now.
These days, we stream most of our movies. And we have more than one player, so in theory, my children can simultaneously watch three different movie musicals all at the same time. Which means that The Sound of Music is competing against The Wizard of Oz and Grease and High School Musical 3 as well as every other movie ever written. So, even though my children could watch The Sound of Music any time they want — and even though they know it is one of my all-time-favorite movies — they never, ever, ever choose to watch it. In fact, I had a better chance of watching The Sound of Music when it was only on once a year during my childhood than I do of watching The Sound of Music now when it is literally available in my home at every single moment.
There is something just nutso about that. Because my kids have access to nearly everything all the time, I feel quite a bit of pressure to be their human filter, not just for naked people and cuss words, but to try to shape their childhoods in the sweet image of my own. If their musical viewing habits are any indication, I am failing. They have just watched Lemonade Mouth for the three-hundredth time, while I hummed “Edelweiss” in the background