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Spoiler alert: Parents can't (always) read your mind

Originally Appeared in : 9911-5/23/19

Our family is not very adept at presenting “spoiler free” reviews of films.

 

Following Jesse’s spoiler to Magan of Han Solo’s death way back in 2015, every subsequent trip to the theater was preempted with, “We don’t say a word. Do you understand?”

 

I made that statement no fewer than three times (twice in the car, once in line for tickets and popcorn), and got head nods and “Yes sirs” from everyone, even my brother Josh, as we headed in to see the new Avengers flick.

 

At a whopping three hours and two minutes, it was all I could do to keep Eli in his seat and Jesse from overanalyzing every scene. There were plenty of explosions, entirely too much popcorn consumed on Simon and Josh’s side of the aisle, and tears shed for the final 10-15 minutes of the film.

 

When the film let out, I steered all of my crowd (except for Josh. Still not quite sure where he’s at as of the penning of the missive but he’ll be fine) away from the throng clogging the doorway to the men’s room on the hopes that “our bathroom is only five minutes away, okay?”

 

As we got closer to the car, I noticed my yellow-haired, overthinker sniffling slightly and wiping tears from his eyes. Sure that watching (spoiler) die toward the end of the film had made Jesse existentialize himself into a tizzy I said, “What’s the matter?”

 

“Nothing,” he said.

 

“Go ahead, you can tell me. It’s okay,” I prodded.

 

“I’m fine,” Jesse continued, turning his head to hide more tears.

 

“Dad, this isn’t our car,” Noah said, as I mindlessly hit the unlock button to no response from our Kia doppelganger in the side parking lot.

 

“Sorry,” I said. “Alright Jesse, tell me what’s the matter.”

 

“It’s nothing. I’m fine.”

 

I swooped him up, legs and all (he’s a beanpole) and held him close to hopefully spur a response.

 

“I don’t want to talk about it,” he said.

 

“I’m not going to stop hugging you until you do,” I said.

 

“You’re laughing,” Jesse said in defiance.

 

“No, I’m just sure I know what’s the matter, and you won’t tell me.”

 

This went on for a moment or two more as the rest of the boys watched from the car until I wore down his defenses just like (spoiler) did at the conclusion of Avengers, and I was ready for him to admit the death had made him emotional.

 

“It’s just that...It’s...just that I lost my PEZ machine and it’s gone forever. And it was the Darth Vader one mommy got me like seven years ago.”

 

“Seven years ago? I don’t think so,” Noah said and offered to run back into the theater to retrieve the fallen candy dispenser.

 

As parents, we tend to think we know all of the ins and outs, ups and downs, highs and lows of our children. They are the fruit of our loins, and not somebody else’s after all.
Jesse proved that, try as I might, I really didn’t have a clue what had actually made him upset. The lesson to be learned is that we won’t always know what upsets our children, or anyone for that matter, but in our work as Christians to walk closer to God, we are called to emulate his empathy and compassion.

 

1 Peter 3:8 calls for just that by saying, “Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.”

 

“So, how was the movie?” Magan said over the car speakers as the black head of the former Anakin Skywalker poked out of Jesse’s clenched fist.

 

“It was good,” I said. “I’ve sworn them all to secrecy.”

 

“It’s okay, you can tell me,” she said, stirring a look of confusion as I rounded the corner for home. “You know I like to read the end of the books, anyway. It won’t spoil it for me.”

 

So I guess we need to tell her how (spoiler) saved the day and (spoiler) lived happily ever after, after all. And, next time, we’re only sneaking in Starbursts.

 

Jason Halcombe has five sons and two daughters. He and his wife, Magan, are members of Immaculate Conception Church, Dublin.

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