Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hannah Montana taught me a lesson...

...and if you've seen the movie, you'd be surprised that it was about letting children be themselves.

Let me be clear about something. I am not a huge fan of the Disney Channel. All their shows feel like extended commercials for merchandise or concerts. Plus, they have a tendency to take cute little kids and turn them into fantastic role models, like Spears and Lohan. I do let the kids watch some of the shows, I even find a few entertaining. However, I find Hannah Montana, besides having a ridiculous plot line and questionable acting, to be nothing short of a full blown Disney propaganda attack. So I was a little bit proud that my 12 year old had no interest in watching the recently released to theaters movie.

Cracks in her "I can't believe all the girls are so giddy to watch this movie" resolve quickly showed. I first noticed with her simple statement of "Mom, I heard that Hannah Montana movie isn't as bad as we thought." Over the next few days that statement, with slight variation, was repeated often. Finally I asked her if she was implying she wanted to see the movie. "Why?!? Are you going to take me?" she squealed. I quickly changed the subject, but the damage had been done. The next week was filled with, "Remember if you asked if I wanted to see that movie. Did you ask because you're going to take me?"

To make matters worse, my almost 7 year old joined her sister in wanting (and asking) to go. While on spring break in North Carolina she had missed a birthday party where they had rented out an entire theater to watch the movie. I think most of the other girls in her class had attended. "But you got to have fun with your aunts," just wasn't cutting it.

The final straw was the annual father-son camp out. Last year we had a girls' night- plus 1.5 year old Matthew- when the guys left. This year Peter decided to take all four boys. I decided it was time to take my girls to that movie: I only had to drive a half hour to find a theater that was still playing it.

The guilt started as soon as I saw how excited they both were with my decision. This obviously meant more to them than I had anticipated. They chattered nonstop to the theater, jittering legs and huge grins betraying their excitement. By the time we left the theater I had to admit Hannah Montana the Movie had surpassed my (rather low) expectations. As we drove home my girls joyfully reviewed their favorite parts; their happy spirit was quite contagious. I had learned a lesson.

I had been so determined that my children would not admire a TV celebrity that I had force fed them my opinions. Spoonful by spoonful of "ridiculous plot line", "terrible acting," "ludicrous outfits," and "preying on parents' wallets." I even took pride in hearing those opinions regurgitated out of their mouths. After all, my daughters were too sophisticated for the intense pandering of Disney.

I was so busy making sure they conformed to my ideal, I had nearly forced them to miss out on something they truly enjoyed. As we drove home I realized that I have limited time of unconditional adoration. I'm pretty sure stifling their personalities and belittling their interests cuts into that time. I need to be careful of my criticism, not just about my children, but about everything. Good thing to learn on something simple like a TV show.

My girls are not Hannah Montana robots. They aren't obsessed. They don't want to be just like her. They wanted to see a simple movie that all their friends had loved. They loved it. To show them I wasn't disappointed (a conclusion they could have easily drawn from everything I'd said about the movie previously), I bought them the sound track on the way home. We put on new pajamas and painted our nails while listening. A movie I was so resistant about seeing ended up creating a precious mother-daughter bonding moment. I guess I don't mind Hannah after all. I might even owe her a big thank you.


  1. Great story, makes me wish Kaylee lived closer to you guys. It is just not the same to drive to a girl movie with just mom and no other little girl to share in the excitement, some day....maybe....

  2. I think "but you got to hang out with your aunts" should have totally cut it!! Ha ha. I'm glad you had fun.

  3. I try to be careful what I say about things I don't like -- like snakes, for example. But your point about pop culture is a good one.

    (I happen to find Hannah Montana slightly entertaining, myself, and if it comes to the dollar theater, I'd totally take my girls!)

  4. My thought has always been, "why shouldn't everyone think just like me? since I'm always right and all." So, are you saying I may NOT be right about everything...

    Seriously, though, thanks for sharing, Charlotte. I am definitely going to take your experience to heart.

  5. So I guess I owe you a gigantic apology for my big eye roll and thoughts of ridiculousness when you told me you were on your way to the movie huh? Glad you had fun.

    My mother daughter night topped yours though. I put the baby to bed at 4:30 and had my first night alone in 5.5 years.

  6. it's how I feel.

    You are a good and smart mom that you realized this in the moment and pulled yourself out. Those learning experiences feel so much better than the hindsight kind.

    This will help me when I'm in the middle of parenting this age. We've already started indoctrinating Bo on the falseness of advertising---perhaps we should ease up and let him figure some things out on his own.

  7. I've been wanting to see it! I actually really like the soundtrack too! I'm glad you gave in.
    Also I totally agree with Kim we "cut it"!! :)

  8. That sounds like such a fun girls' night out with your daughters. I have always been anti-Disney sitcoms as well, but I think my sons are closet Hannah Montana fans. We caught some tadpoles and they named the girl tadpoles "Hannah" and "Miley". hhmmmmm....

  9. While Hannah Montana is more of a product than a singer or actress, she is only mildly excruciating for me. I'm glad you fought through that to have the nice family moment.

  10. I actually like Hannah Montana. I am a nerd I know. I am far from a robot, and only plan on watching the movie when I can get it for a $1 at redbox

  11. I may have to go watch the movie now. I was forced to listen to the soundtrack over and over at work which completely diminished the desire to watch the movie.

    P.s. I ate sushi next to "Lily" at Benihana once. It was pretty cool.

  12. I'm surprised how many closet (or not so closeted) Hannah Montana fans there are out there.

  13. I totally went to see myself...and I loved it! I've never seen any episodes, but the movie was fun! I'm a nerd that way.