A Day At the Movies With a Highly Sensitive Child

and the magical mother-daughter moment that wasn’t.

Okay, it was magical in a way.  On Saturday, after several long sick weeks indoors, Girl 1 and I needed to get out.  We spent over an hour at Old Navy, and that was a miracle in itself.  When she was 2 or 3 or even 4 I could never manage her in a store for more than five minutes at a time.

This time, though, the sensory overload at Old Navy got to me before it got to her.  The bright lights, the stale air, the loud music, the bright baubles that make it hard for me to focus my eyes on anything for more than five seconds.  It all gets to me.

Then we got lunch at Chipotle (steak salad for me, cheese quesadilla for her–no rice, no beans–and chocolate milk).

Then we saw Frozen.

{I’ve been eager to write another post, just so “My Life Is Hell” is no longer the first thing you see on my blog.  “This Felicitous Life . . . which is Hell.”  Still I was tempted to title this post “Hell Frozen Over.”  But that would make the third time in as many weeks that I’ve titled a post using the word “Hell.”  My parents raised me better than that.  Two times per month.  Tops.}

Not sure what I think of the movie.  I think most kids’ movies are pretty dumb, and this isn’t an exception.

I like the message of “love is putting someone else’s needs ahead of your own.”  Love isn’t just romance and kissing.

There’s also a message of “holding back your feelings is bad.”  It can lead to lashing out and inadvertently hurting those you love.  True ‘dat.  Though holding back your feelings isn’t always bad.  The devil is in the details.

And that “Do You Wanna Build A Snowman” song, sung by the little sister who loves her big sister more than anything, when the big sister loves her too but feels she has to stay away?

But in the end, the princess and the guy who loves her (really loves her and sacrificed for her) end on an ambiguous note.  They kiss and things look good for them.  But they might get married; they might not.  Does it really matter?  I kind of think it does.

I heard a Disney exec interviewed on NPR recently.  He was basically apologetic about earlier Disney princess movies, stressing that the newer ones feature “strong women” who “aren’t just waiting around for a guy to rescue them.”  Somehow, I don’t worry about my girls becoming strong women.  I take that as a given.

My bigger concern is that they know they deserve a guy who will risk everything and slay dragons for them.  And they shouldn’t waste their time on anyone offering less.

My biggest problem with the movie experience, though, is that it bombards your senses.  Violently.  Poor Girl 1 had her hands over her ears through most of the movie.  We left three times for “breaks” when it got too scary or just too much.  Too much noise, too many scary monsters, too many chase scenes, too much hanging off cliffs.

Afterward, I asked Girl 1, “What did you think of the movie? . . . Did you like it?”

“Mmm, no.  It wasn’t a good movie.”

We stopped at Panera on our way home, for a cinnamon bun as big as her face (found to contain raisins: mostly rejected).


The warm fuzzies were coursing through my veins.  Shopping! Movie! Food!  It was the perfect mommy-daughter outing.

And then she pouted and whined and kicked my seat the whole way home because I wouldn’t let her play with my phone.

Some moms really enjoy making special “moments.”  I’ve really had to lower my expectations on that front.  I enjoyed our day out, and I know Girl 1 did too.  But my satisfaction can’t hinge on her appreciating the “specialness” of it.  She rarely reacts in a way I feel is warranted.

But on another, perfectly ordinary day not long ago, Girl 1 looked up at me and smiled, saying,

Oh Mommy, I love being me with you.

Oh Girl 1, I love being me with you, too.

9 thoughts on “A Day At the Movies With a Highly Sensitive Child

  1. I totally understand the need to have those “special” moments with your sweet daughter. Expectations can be a real dog can’t they? I know I spend all day trying to get a smile from my special needs daughter and can be so frustrated but then it finally comes when I least expect it and all is right with the world. Here’s to more special moments with your little princess 🙂

  2. Personally, I think movie theaters are just problematic for anyone who is a little bit sensitive to noise or lights or whatever. I almost can’t enjoy a movie in the theater anymore–the sound is too loud, the other movie-goers are loud and irritating with their phones throughout the movie, I always always have to get up and use the bathroom during some critical juncture, and for this, I pay $20? No thank you ma’am. I usually wait until it hits netflix and watch it in the comfort of my own computer screen and reasonable speakers.

  3. Ok, I’m teary. Sweet ending. I’ve had lots of good/disappointing days like this post. I’m definitely happier with lower expectations, and accepting my kids for who they are, not who I think/thought they should be. Beautiful post!!

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