This blog is dedicated in loving memory to Ishia the mother chimp in the Disney movie Chimpanzee.
So...despite how it may come across in this blog, I do love my children and I take my job as their mother very seriously. I think long and hard about the life lessons I want to instill in them, I read books to them, play board games, Barbies, do crafts, create science experiments...you get the picture. I try to be well thought out in my approach to teaching morals, how I discipline my children and just being a good, decent, present parent.
Recently Sara had started to get pretty bratty...whining, screeching and being mean to her dad. She even kicked a trash can at me. Enough was enough. I brought out the big guns and we made a behavior chart. She needed to follow 3 rules in order to earn a circle. The rules were 1) No yelling 2) No whining and 3) Be nice to daddy. She could earn up to 3 circles a day...each day was broken up into 3 smaller increments of time....a whole day would be too long for her to be good. I wanted her to be able to have some success so I broke it up into 3 time separate time frames. Once she got all of the circles (21) she got a reward. See, I told you I was well thought out! She wanted to go see Disney's new movie Chimpanzee. A rated G documentary about a baby chimp that is orphaned until he is taken under the wing of the chimp group's elder male. She would call for me to come in every time she saw a commercial for it. The timing was right...if she did a great job it would take her a week to earn the circles and she would be able to see it opening weekend.
Sara worked so hard and she was much more pleasant to be around. I know it is just circles on a chart but it taught her so many important life lessons...1. hard work,determination and perseverance pay off. 2. the nicer she was to people the more time they wanted to spend with her doing fun things...her and Chuck really bonded over frog hunting that week and 3. Mommy and daddy will not tolerate bratty behavior.
She did it!!! She got all of her circles in time to see the movie on opening weekend. I switched my schedule around a bit, I wanted her to know that this was really important and that I was recognizing her hard work. So we go to the movies, just her and I. She was so excited with the biggest grin on her face. We got our snacks and headed into the theater. This was the big time! A real movie, with the lights off and previews. Typically we see the Kidtoons with the lights just dimmed and no previews. You could tell she felt so special and grown up.
Now I am just going to say it...DISNEY DID US WRONG!!!! Let me explain...the movie starts, it is very sweet...The baby, Oscar, is the cutest little bugga. They document the chimp group playing, sleeping and eating. Well, the fruit trees are bare, they are having a hard time finding something to eat. So the chimps come up with another plan...they decide to seek out and ambush a monkey. They show them setting up the ambush and carrying it out. They didn't show the actual killing but you could hear it in the background...they then pan over to the chimps eating monkey flesh. Sara looked at me stunned and said, "I thought they ate bananas"...so we recover from that and move on. Well...now comes the part when baby Oscar becomes and orphan...They show a leopard stalking around in the dark and then you hear the mom screaming as she is being eaten...these chimps are so human like and keep in mind THEY SCREAM LIKE PEOPLE!!! Sara is staring straight ahead and says "did the leopard kill the mom?"...I am staring straight ahead and just as stunned answer "uh-huh"...
The movie comes to an end and we silently walk out of the theater. I was shocked!!! I knew the baby chimp is orphaned but I figured that since it was rated G that it would kind of gloss over the gory details...
That night I was putting Sara to bed and we were talking about our day and I was saying how special it was and I was so proud of her for earning all the circles. She tells me that it wasn't really that special because I took her to the worst, scariest movie on the earth.
Thank you Disney!!! You ruined a delicate, complex reward system that has been so effective in the past. Now where is the incentive? I can just imagine the wheels turning in Sara's head..."Um, ok, let's see mom wants me to behave...if I work really hard she will take me somewhere and scare the sh*t out of me as a reward? thanks but no thanks"...I've got nothing.
To top it all off Sara has been having nightmares since we saw Chimpanzee. One was of me climbing a tree to get fruit and a gorilla comes and eats me. So now we are back to not sleeping through the night again...paging Dr. Murray.