Movies get my kids together – but The Sound of Music is a step too far

Finding something we all enjoy is harder than gauging the number of spuds to peel

I’m trying to convince the kids to watch some of the movies I loved as a child – to share a common bond and, if I’m honest, to avoid having to watch incessant YouTubers every time we watch something together.

In some instances, it’s going well, though Back to the Future, where the “future” in real time is now actually the past, caused its share of confusion and has convinced the younger ones their mother is of prehistoric times. The older ones could have told them that, if only they’d asked about some of her totally unfair rules about phones at bedtime, console use and the likes.

They are yet to give The Sound of Music – possibly the best movie of all time – a fair go, which is a pity, considering how often their family is compared to it. I’m considering, however, resorting to emotional blackmail of sorts to get them to watch it with me – Mother’s Day can be milked for a few more days yet, I figure.

I'm clinging to any opportunities I can to do things as a family – all of us, together. No mean feat when there's a big age gap between eldest and youngest

It’s not about wanting them to learn the words to Edelweiss, or even my secret dream that one day the von Hogans might be asked to recreate a version of So Long, Farewell on a makeshift staircase – a new career in which my 4th-class accordion lessons can finally be put to use. Instead, it’s often a case of trying to find something we can all do together, collapsed in a heap on the sofa after a long week. See, the thing is, having loads of kids isn’t just about trying to remember who’s due where and when, or gauging the number of spuds that need to be peeled for any given meal. Performing loaves-and-fishes type miracles is one thing – but working out something we can all enjoy together is a totally different ask.


Himself is much more accepting of the older kids growing up, and with three of them now towering over me and a fourth rapidly catching up, I am reminded on a daily basis that this is what those pesky kids do. Still, I’m clinging to any opportunities I can to do things as a family – all of us, together. No mean feat when there’s a big age gap between eldest and youngest, but these are the moments I cherish and crave, and the ones I’m most reluctant to let go of. It wasn’t such a big deal when there were two, three or even four of them, when they could all bundle up on the couch, freshly washed out of the bath together. All in the one place, all happy, more or less, to do the same thing. I knew then, they were perfect moments – I just didn’t appreciate how quickly those times pass by.

Even more quickly these days, as normality and sports training, homework, other activities and the usual evening chaos ensues while the Hulk and his trusty sidekick “whatever has come out of the costume drawer” sort bad guys in the background. So we’re stealing time back, with 15 or 20 minutes of a movie to wind them down these evenings.

"What year was this made?" is the suspicious question from one child that follows any suggestions made by me. And the response is enough to decide whether it's watchable or not. "Olden movies", such as those made in the 1980s, are almost always immediately dismissed, though, admittedly, they have a new-found appreciation for the coolness of a DeLorean. It's almost inconceivable, really, when they're the proud owners of a Transit.

So now I know the script of every Pirates of the Caribbean movie off by heart – along, obviously, with Star Wars. And while they’ve humoured me with watching some of my favourites, nothing, for them, beats a good guys versus bad guys movie.

My favourite times are those rare evenings, where, unintentionally or otherwise, all seven sit down to watch something with me. Some wander in to the sitting room to say hi, having been out all day, or just to check what there is to eat. And as they sit down for a moment, their attention perhaps caught by a funny scene, that unexpected extra available lap suddenly becomes a seat for a younger member. A perfect moment I try to savour. Now if only during one of those perfect moments I could get them to watch The Sound of Music.

Relatability, I try to reason. But no, I cannot compete with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movie. “That mum is just like you”, a younger one laughs. “She does embarrassing dancing and writes for a newspaper”, another clarifies. And I’m reminded relatability is in the eye of the beholder.