Have you seen The Polar Express?
I have seen it 100 times. And that’s a low-ball estimate.
We introduced the holiday film to our son last Christmas. I remembered "The Polar Express" book and its beautiful illustrations from when my sisters were younger, but I’d never seen the movie, which is computer animated and features several characters speaking with varying intonations of Tom Hanks’s voice.
The story is all about believing. Just because you don’t see something, doesn’t mean it’s not real. I actually think the movie is saying something about God, not Santa. Or maybe it should be?
Regardless, the first time I saw it, I thought it was pretty good, which is lucky since my 2-1/2-year-old son – get ready for the understatement-of-the-year – loved it.
We watched The Polar Express a lot during the last holiday season, and even well into January 2011. When we were still watching it several times a week into February, I began to worry.
But it was too late. The movie had picked up speed in T Junior’s mind like, well, like that part when the brakes fail on the Polar Express and that skinny engineer swallows the part needed to fix them. By April, I’d come to accept that if we were watching a kid’s movie, it was The Polar Express.
This summer, I went for a bike ride with my friend Chelsea. I pulled T Junior, now 3, in the bicycle trailer. I gave him a sandwich, a water and The Polar Express on the portable DVD player. (He needs some sort of entertainment back there or else he’ll ask me 500 questions as I’m trying to pedal in the heat with an extra 50 pounds behind me.)
Chelsea and I were able to hold a rare uninterrupted conversation for about two minutes when T Junior began intermittently shouting out scenes from his favorite movie. “The train is here!” “He’s talking to the conductor!” “Mom, it’s ‘Hot Chocolate’!” That’s one of the film’s songs.
Next, though, was a demand.
“Mom, sing it!”
“What?” I shouted over my shoulder.
“Sing ‘HOT CHOCOLATE!”
“No!” *breath* “I can’t!”
“T Junior!” *huff* “I! Am!” *puff* “Not!” *breath* “Singing! It!”
Chelsea was trying not to veer off the trail laughing.
The holiday film continued to be our most-watched film of 2011 until October. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown! took its place during the Halloween season. I thought it would be temporary, and expected The Polar Express to be back in demand by Christmastime.
But T Junior has had a hard time getting over the trick-or-treat festivities. He has a serious case of Halloween letdown. Even though we’re well into December, when he told me he was sad last week I guessed the reason even before he told me. I asked why anyway. Dropping his hands to his sides and sticking out his bottom lip, he answered: “Because Halloween is over.”
Today is December 20. Christmas is less than a week away. By now, we’ve watched all the kid-friendly holiday films a few times. Well, all but one.
The only one we haven’t watched this season is The Polar Express. So, yesterday, I asked him if he wanted to watch it.
“No,” he said. “I don’t like that movie.”
I don’t freaking believe it.