After Dylan was born, there was a period of great disquiet at our house. Most of the disquiet was generated by Dylan and too much of it was generated during the middle of the night. To me, the indicator that sanity was on the rise was being able to sit and watch a movie properly on our hi-fi; we just weren't able to do that during the first six to wight weeks following Dylan's arrival. I know it sounds stupid, but that was a make or break type thing for me, reminding me of how staying away from home during my army career – or rather, away from my stereo – used to drive me crazy.
Now, however, we seem to have a new problem on our hands. Whereas before we were able to play movies as loud as we wanted to – even at THX levels, which Jo doesn’t approve of – and still have Dylan very fast asleep in his cot, nowadays the kid has grown up enough to become aware of such events taking place. We can still watch films, but let’s just say that the bombardment of Pearl Harbor would have to be viewed more like a silent film than what a proper home theater experience should be like if we don’t want to spend our nights pacifying the baby of the house.
I strongly suspect the problem would get worse with time. Not that I’m blaming Dylan or anything; I wouldn’t be able to sleep with someone playing a film even at low levels in the next room, so why should I ask Dylan to do the same?
You can also see why Dylan is agitated by us watching the films. Watching King Kong last week, the film was long enough to step unto his late at night bottle time (which by now he can live without but at the time he was sick enough for us to want to push more liquid into him). We woke him up, and because it was already late and the film was so tediously long we wanted to get it over with ourselves we allowed the film to play as Dylan drank. He likes to watch the news on his evening feed, so why wouldn’t he like to watch a proper film?
Well, there are some good answers for that why question. It comes down to two things: First, it is clear that Dylan is unable to distinguish reality from fiction. That is, for him, the events taking place on TV – notably, King Kong being attacked while roaming about Manhattan with Naomi Watts – are obviously very distressing, as opposed to entertaining. Second, and what seems to be much more important given Dylan’s regular ambivalence towards exciting events on TV, is the sound factor: King Kong played through our hi-fi is an extensive experience that engulfs you with orchestral music and action all around; it’s nothing like watching ordinary TV. We’re used to it and we need quite a kick to feel that we’re inside the film, but Dylan was obviously 100% with Mr Kong.
We clicked the stop button pretty quickly.
Talking about King Kong reminds me of the developmental stage Dylan is currently in. It’s quite funny, actually, because throughout our experiences with Dylan, since conception till now, it feels as if evolution is staring us in the eye. At first we had this fish larva on the ultrasound screen, and now we have ourselves a small King Kong of our own.
Dylan’s current hobby seems to be sitting up (he’s capable of that now) and uttering a prolonged shout, gorilla style, often while waving his hand. While raising the question of whether we are raising an aspiring alpha at our premises, one cannot avoid laughing at the phenomenon; it’s not like we have King Kong here, it is still a baby that’s performing this act, and the result is funny. The main thing that’s missing from making it a complete show is Dylan banging on his chest, but I’m working on teaching him that.
Yes, we seem to have got to the stage where Dylan actually and obviously mimics our behavior. Maybe it was random, but he did seem to wave at us yesterday when we waved at him, and when I answer his King Kong call with a King Kong of my own we quickly establish a King Kong open dialog.
It’s not just us he reacts to; Dylan is clearly reacting to music, too, and I have to say that so far the boy does have good taste. Last night, for example, he waved his arms around (as well as his head) in rhythm with Dire Straits’ Telegraph Road. The guitar riff was his favorite bit! It’s funny to watch him react to music, because he reminds me of those documentaries that show you old African tribes and their dancing/mating rituals. I wouldn’t have thought that dancing is so well engraved in our genes, but it obviously is.
In conclusion: Lately, we seem to have a preference for short, quiet films.