It’s summer already and that means you’re hearing the birds chirping, the bees buzzing, and the sound of children’s laughter wafting in through an open window. Want to know what’s heard at my house? A cork popping from a wine bottle.
It isn’t that summer isn’t my thing. It’s just that three months of uninterrupted togetherness with my 3 little monsters cherubs makes me remember that I’m better at parenting when I have an eight hour school day as a buffer. Okay, so maybe I will survive. But I’ll tell you one thing, it won’t be because I’ve spent 12 weeks gluing together macaroni boat crafts and constructing sensory tables for the youngest. Even Martha Stewart would tire of that.
See, I know the real key to staying on my kids’ good side. It starts with “tele” and ends with “vision.” And boy, did learning that help me see the light. Let’s be honest, sometimes you need to stick those little jokers of yours in front of a screen and veg out. And that’s okay. Heck, by the time they realize you’ve fried their brains and ruined their ability to think creatively, you’ll be resting comfortably in a Floridian nursing home. And who can feel guilty over shuffleboard? Bright side!
Seriously, at some point you need to take a break from all your Pinterest-inspired theatrics and relax. The kids are used to zombie-ing out to the Disney channel but how many times can you hear Princess Sophia make small talk with a bunny? He’s a bunny for Pete’s sake – which one of the servants has to clean up all those pellets he’s dropping all over the castle! Good grief.
But I digress. The smartest thing to do when getting through those not so sunny summer days is to invest in some PG-rated Netflix & Chill time. Picking out flicks that are entertaining to both the little hellions AND the big ones (I’m talking about you here) in your house doesn’t have to be hard or
mean you’ll be snoozing through the same shows you’ve seen a million times already.
In fact, through endless hours of avoiding social settings tireless research I’ve compiled an incredible list of a few of the very best (un)fairy tales to keep you plugged into some small screen kiddie fun. Let’s all go to the movies, shall we:
5 – Cinderella. I know what you’re thinking: everyone has seen Cinderella. But I’m talking about the 1997 United Colors of Benetton version that doubles as an ad for the United Nations. With an ensemble cast featuring R&B darling Brandy, diva extraordinaire Whitney Houston, Bernadette Peters (Lily St. Regis lives!) and Whoopi Goldberg among others, its a classic re-telling that’s worth its weight in Netflix gold. Seinfeld fans will love seeing George Costanza (Jason Alexander) entertain as the faithful royal servant and there’s a cutie patootie that plays the prince who had me dusting off my adobo recipe…ya know, just in case. Needless to say, it’s a multicultural version of a crowd favorite you might want to re-visit, perfect for all ages.
4-The Neverending Story. It’s true, some of the very best things in life were made in the 1980’s (this is a fact, don’t overthink it) and this movie is the perfect example of that. As a young bookworm, you couldn’t tell me that my Babysitter’s Club and Goosebumps series weren’t transporting me to another world each time I cracked the spine. Watching young Bastian, get lost in that story of magic and suspense was everything to me as a kid. But there are treats for all, everything from flying dogs and talking statues, to hilarious woodland creatures, and the ever-relatable story of finding your voice even as danger looms. If your children are old enough to make it through a couple dark scenes, as the mysterious Nothing gobbles up the kingdom, then I definitely think The Neverending Story should go on your summer watch list.
3-Goonies. Okay, so this isn’t exactly a fairy tale, but who can’t identify with wanting to help a friend in need and drooling over the prospect of untold riches? There’s pirate treasure, smart aleck bad guys, an asthmatic brace-faced underdog who ends up being the hero (I always imagined myself in this role), and a lovable “monster” to help save the day. If that doesn’t check all your boxes for a good time, you need a swift kick in the bottom from Mama Fratelli!
2-Maleficent. This isn’t an oldie, but it’s definitely a goodie. Angelina Jolie and her cheekbones play the oft-misunderstood antagonist of Sleeping Beauty. You think you know her story, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Sure, everyone’s usually so quick to be on the princesses’ side (believe the blonde, why don’t cha), but have you ever considered there might be a little backstory you’re missing out on? Maleficent is a story of unrequited love, vengeance, and redemption. It’s wondrous and larger than life as the action scenes play out in a big way against the backdrop of a magical forest and the brooding king’s castle. Again, if your kids can stomach their way through the fight scenes, you’d do well to give this flick a try.
1-The Wiz (NBC). Hold on a second, I need to slide on my tap shoes from the 8th grade and do a quick 2-step. That’s what this movie causes – irrational behavior merriment and whimsy in women old enough to know better! Geez, I love a good musical, don’t you? The 2015 stage play of The Wiz, broadcast on NBC last holiday season, is based on the fairly well known film featuring Michael Jackson from over 30 years ago. That film was actually based on the 1970’s play of the same name which was itself the Black re-make of the L. Frank Baum classic, The Wizard of Oz. Did you follow along with all that? Don’t worry though, you don’t have to know Who’s on First to enjoy this song and dance filled showstopper. If your kids are anything like mine, they’ll be jamming and jumping in their seats through the whole thing. There’s something about watching a play (even if on screen) that makes you feel like you could actually be right there on stage taking part. Seeing the characters seamlessly groove from scene to scene was a feat and singing along to the catchy tunes was a laugh for all of us. So if you don’t mind humming ‘Ease on Down’ for a few weeks, pick this Wiz up today.
And there you have it. Take a breath, put down the homemade sidewalk chalk and egg carton bird feeder crafts and snuggle up with those babies of yours in front of the television for a bit. It’s one of my favorite ways to make the most of your summer. And more importantly, from the couch, no one can judge you for that hole in your yoga pants. Bright side!