Never let your kids see you cry. That’s a rule in some unwritten parenting book from long ago. A few days ago, I tried to obey that rule. It didn’t work out too well.
One son was invited to a birthday party at one of those places where they have pits filled with plastic balls where kids sit and pee. I knew that sitting around watching kids pee in giant ball pits would make me cry.
Never let your kids see you cry.
So my wife got to go to that giant germ pit which is represented by, of all things, a rat. I decided to take my other son to see a movie. We saw McFarland, USA.
I went into the theatre expecting Remember the Titans with running instead of football. That’s pretty much what I got. It followed the usual formula for Disney produced sports films. Outcast kids + down on his luck coach who initially doesn’t want anything to do with said outcast kids + adversity + great athletic accomplishments + singing and dancing montage + inspiration. Predictable as it is, I like this formula. It’s sort of like watching YouTube videos of soldiers surprising their families by coming home early and showing up at halftime of some football game. You know what’s going to happen but you can’t quit watching.
My son and I couldn’t quit watching McFarland, USA. There were a few times that I looked over at him to make sure that he was holding up okay during the two plus hours of non-cartoon involved cinema. He was doing just fine. His eyes couldn’t turn away from the screen. He was captivated by the well-told story.
I once heard someone say that you know you’re watching a good movie when you forget what time it is. We both forgot what time it was. For over two hours, our world was in McFarland, USA.
And then it was over.
And that’s when I broke the rule about never letting your kids see you cry.
I looked over at my son and he was crying. Later on he said that they were “tears of joy.” That’s another sign of a good story. When it can make you cry without making you sad. So my son and I sat in that empty theatre and we cried. For a second or two, I was doing one of those cries where your shoulders move up and down. And my son saw it all through his tear soaked eyes.
And I’m glad.
So I say, forget about the parenting rule that says that your kids can’t see you cry. When your kids see you cry they see that you are a person. A person with feelings. A person who cares.
Later that day, we all met back up at our house. My son and I still had that post-cry feeling in our eyes. My wife was on the verge of tears after spending all afternoon watching kids pee in the giant pit of plastic balls. My other son was wondering what was wrong with all of us and when he could go back to see the rat again.
My sons finished their day with their customary Sunday evening run. My oldest son said that he was thinking about McFarland, USA while he ran. I’m sure that he’ll do that for quite some time. And I hope that he doesn’t forget anytime soon about crying with his dad in the theatre after the movie was over.
So parents, stop holding in the tears. Let your kids see you cry. Let them see your happy tears. Remember, tears go along with a good story.
McFarland, USA is a good story.
And so is your life together as a family.
But like any good story, it goes by quick. So don’t be afraid to slow down and soak it all in with the ones you love.
Don’t be afraid to let them see you cry.