Y'know the scene in Annie, where she goes to the movies for the first time and it is such a huge wonderful experience for her? Lilly loves watching that, and loves the song from that part, "Let's Go to the Movies." And loves watching her favorite dvds, Annie and High School Musical 1 & 2. So, it only made sense to us that when High School Musical 3 came out in NZ this weekend, that we would take her as her first movie.
We pictured Lilly having the same experience as Annie. Getting ready and all excited for the big show, getting in the car singing the whole way, walking into the theater and being so excited, looking around in wonder and anticipation for the big show. Sitting in her seat between her two favorite people, in awe of the experience, and having it be one of the best moments of her life.
Then reality hit us, and we realized she's 2. And everyone we talked to warned us that she'd want to talk too much and too loudly in movies, and she'd get restless sitting there for too long. She would be bored and last just a few minutes. While she loves High School Musical 1 & 2, she wouldn't know the music yet to HSM 3 so it wouldn't hold her attention. We wouldn't be able to fast forward through the "boring" talking scenes like we do at home. The screen would be too big and the sound would be too loud. A tall person would sit in front of her and she wouldn't be able to see.
So many times with Lilly, Jon & I want to do something with her, and then we think: are we really doing it for her, or for us? Because in a perfect world, she would go and have the best time in her little life, but is she really too young to appreciate the experience? Are we just being selfish for wanting to take her, when she probably won't enjoy it at all?
Through Lilly's nap, Jon and I debated and argued, trying to figure out what to do. It was a beautiful day outside, and we live right on the beach; should we walk down and do something we know she'd appreciate instead? Or maybe go next weekend to the 9 am show, where she'd be less likely to bother other people if she was a complete nut in the theater?
But Lilly woke up in a good mood, and we decided to get in the car and try it, as long as we knew that if she hated it, we'd leave immediately. We packed her High School Musical backpack (thanks to my parents!) with crackers, mini m&m's, and water. We dressed her in a teeny-bopper outfit, a pink polo shirt and green/pink plaid bermuda shorts. We turned on the HSM soundtrack as we drove over, and she danced and sang the whole way over. So far, so good.
We got to the local mall where the movie was playing, and she could anticipate something good was up. We got her out of the car, and she was excited. We kept pointing to the HSM characters on her backpack, but we honestly had no idea whether or not she understood. We got in the ticket line, and Lilly was excited, waving to everyone and smiling very big. We were going to try to go in after the previews were over, so she wouldn't have to sit so long. But, we had arrived too early. We killed about 5 minutes outside the theater, where she danced around, but then she started walking into the threater, so we gave up and decided to go ahead and find our seats. (By the way: in NZ, they assign seats to you when you buy the tickets, so you can't just sit "wherever," although you can have input to where the seats are when you purchase.) We had asked for aisle seats, because I was certain she wouldn't last more than 10 minutes. The theater is relatively new, and the seats were huge, with an armrest that comes up to combine two seats into one big one. Which was nice, for the 3 of us, because we ended up just taking up 2 seats and having Lilly sit in between us.
She was excited when she sat down - but of course, she's always happy to sit with mommy & daddy. The previews were just starting, and we knew that it would be 15 minutes before the movie would even start, and then the movie itself was 112 minutes. My panic attack was just about to begin, thinking about Lilly sitting still for 2 hours, when the first preview started and my daughter's mouth dropped to the floor - she was so impressed by the huge screen and the cartoon characters running around, and the loud music - she started dancing and clapping. At one point, something fell on one of the characters, and she did a big "Oh!" and put her hand on her cheek in surprise. She watched all 15 minutes of previews with a huge smile on her face, and I started to relax.
Then the movie began. The music started, and Zac Efron's huge face showed up on the screen. My daughter was thrilled. She started dancing hard, and smiling, and singing, and eating crackers (of course), and snapping her adorable little fingers. For the next 112 minutes, when she wasn't laughing and dancing, she was watching in awe and amazement, with her hands on our legs, or sitting on my lap, or her head on our shoulders. It was the absolute coolest moment of her life. Jon and I sat there, watching her expressions for a good part of the movie. We were so proud I think our hearts almost burst; and I was teary for most of it. It couldn't have gone better.
Life doesn't always go the way you plan it with a toddler, but when it does, it is amazing. As we walked out of the theater (and back in and out 3 more times, as she had to keep going back in to do "one more dance" before leaving for good), we felt so very blessed by our amazing charismatic little angel. The magic we felt in the theater, attributed to Lilly's enthusiasm, was incredible. I don't think a person has ever enjoyed HSM3 as much as Miss Lillian Grace Sherman.