The Lorax: A Children's Movie or Wake-up Call for Adults? Five Meaningful Things To Do With Kids After Leaving the Theater

The Lorax: A Children's Movie or Wake-up Call for Adults? Five Meaningful Things To Do With Kids After Leaving the Theater

In less than 24 hours, I will see The Lorax!

Since my first glimpse of the movie trailer for The Lorax in October, I've been counting down the months, weeks and days until its release.  http://www.theloraxmovie.com/index.php#/splash

My children have been looking forward to the movie theater popcorn saturated with butter-flavored oil.

Tomorrow evening, I will load my three children into our gas-guzzling-in-desperate-need-of-an-emissions-test minivan.  We will drive a meager 2.5 miles to the movie theater parking lot crammed full of other large vehicles.  Before finding our seats in the crowded theater, we will line up with the masses to purchase armloads of concessions:  over-flowing tubs of popcorn, gigantic-sized cups of soda, cartons of candy.

After our wallets are considerably lightened, the masses will line up in corrals created by heavy-duty stanchions linked together with brightly-colored, vinyl retractable strips (a feeble attempt at crowd-control when overly-indulged toddlers and anxious parents are tempted with sugary treats and impending audio-visual stimulation).

In my rose-colored glasses fantasy, we will emerge from the movie confronted with the reality of the dangers of over-consumption and wastefulness and, yet, the Truffula-seed-of-hope will have been planted deep within our souls. We will unite, transformed by the wisdom of Seuss, transfixed by dream-like flashes of color, and hypnotized by the soundtrack of change.

In my perfect fantasy world, this movie would have been released on Earth Day, April 22. Movie theaters across the country would use it as a vehicle to introduce more eco-friendly changes: recycling receptacles outside each individual theater, re-usable popcorn tubs and soda fountain cups, digitized ticketing procedures and tools to eliminate paper tickets entirely, etc. Marketing campaigns would encourage our children to recycle.

Unfortunately, I must remove my reality-skewing glasses and admit that the lesson of The Lorax will more than likely be lost somewhere between the hallway of the movie theater and the line outside the bathroom. The Lorax remains a story for parents.

Sure, my children are familiar with Dr. Seuss' beloved classic dark cautionary tale.  Each spring, I can never quite resist the temptation to pause during planting, examine a seed, gingerly place it in a child's palm and exclaim, "It's a Truffula Seed.  It's the last one of all!  You're in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds." Many a Pokemon card, Bakugan figure, and zhu zhu pet have been cursed "Thneed!" as I've tripped on them and stumbled. However, my children have always preferred the lighter stories from Seuss. They loved the lyrical sing-songy cadence of Green Eggs and Ham and The Cat in the Hat. They never asked me to read The Lorax five times in a row before bed. Truthfully, they never wanted to hear The Lorax as a bedtime story at all.

But I will still see the movie. And, I can safely predict that movie theaters across the country will be stuffed full of families this weekend, and next, and the weekend after and probably until the next children's movie is released to take its place.

However, I will not let this opportunity for genuine change disappear, but I will learn from the mistakes of that didactic, preachy Lorax. I will create change through positive reinforcement, encouragement and example. Are you up for the challenge?

Five Meaningful Things To Do With Your Kids After Viewing The Lorax:

1. Recycle your movie theater trash. As I don't have much confidence in mass-recycling vestibules magically sprouting up at my local AMC tomorrow, we'll need to take a little bit more time and get messy! Even before you exit your seats, encourage your family and those around you to divide movie theater waste into two quick categories: garbage can trash and recycling.  Designate a family member or two to dump the popcorn and leftover soda into the garbage cans while the other family members stack the empty containers together to bring home to put in your recycling bins. Inspire others. And if they won't join in, kindly ask if you could recycle their trash for them.

2. Read the book to your children. If the visually appealing trailer is any indication, it will be easy to lose the real message of Dr. Seuss' book as you are transported by 94 minutes of vivid, eye-popping colors combined with musical score, fast-paced action, impending danger and clips of cute bears swimming in marshmallows.  Heck with my adult ADD, even after the two minute trailer, it took me about 30 seconds to remember the true spirit of The Lorax.  So, find a comfy spot on the couch and actually read the book to your children.

3. Make one small change. Have a family brainstorming session. List all of the ways in which your family could be better stewards of our Earth. Write all of the ideas in a notebook or on a piece of paper. Yes, write them all down no matter how ridiculous, impossible or improbable the ideas seem. Pick the easiest, cheapest, most convenient idea and do it. Keep the list and refer to it when you are ready for the next challenge. Celebrate each item you cross off and challenge yourself to do more.

4. Plant a seed. Pretend you are in grade school, grab some soil and a packet of seeds from the local home improvement store, and get your hands dirty. This is a very inexpensive meaningful project for the entire family to do together. Have your child take responsibility for watering and care.  Let your little sprouting seed inspire a daily dialog.

5. Donate. Challenge each family member to fill a small bag (or larger) with items to donate from their rooms. Have them fill their bags with books, clothes, toys, etc. to donate to a shelter or charity. Give praise and encouragement to them when they finish. Or turn it into a game: set a timer and  race against the timer. If your child isn't ready to fill a bag, encourage him to only pick one item to donate and praise him when he does!

It's easy to list and type these five ideas. I am confident that I will be able to do each item at least one time with my family. However, it will be a struggle to continue on our new path.

I've tried to institute these changes before and I often stumble, stop and re-start the process all over again. Read more of my journey and ecological struggles detailed in a previous blog post: http://www.chicagonow.com/parenting-without-a-parachute/2011/07/its-not-easy-being-green-one-mothers-struggle-to-save-the-earth-and-her-sanity/

 

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  • Great ideas Crystal!
    I have never read The Lorax and I was not familiar with it's message. I was thinking of taking Junior to go see the movie and I will be watching with a new perspective!

  • Enjoy the movie!! I've watched the trailer so many times that youtube probably thinks I'm a toddler!
    Michael Phillips had a review in the Chicago Tribune today:http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/movies/sc-mov-0228-lorax-20120301,0,6747864.column

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