The Rockwood Files: Wearing parent goggles

By Gwen Rockwood, newspaper columnist and mama of 3

The first time I saw the movie Footloose, I was 11 years old. It was 1984, and I was in the fifth grade. My best friend had her first major crush on a boy named John. I wanted Calvin Klein Jeans more than anything else in the world. And somebody convinced me that getting a perm was a great idea. It wasn’t.

In 1984, one of the girls in my fifth-grade class told us she’d just seen the movie “Footloose” starring Kevin Bacon. She described it as the best movie she’d ever seen and that it made her want to get up and dance right there in the theater. I could hardly wait to see it, and it did not disappoint. A few days later, I convinced my mother to buy the cassette tape of the movie’s soundtrack, which I played on a boom box until I literally wore it out. Ah, good times.

Fast forward 27 years, and there I was again, excitedly standing in line to see a remake of the movie Footloose. The stars of this remake are quite a bit younger because, like me, Kevin Bacon now has kids and laugh lines and would probably break a hip if he tried to do the dance moves in the modern day version of the movie.

As Tom and I sat there watching the familiar storyline play out on the big screen, I couldn’t help but notice how differently I felt about it. It’s still a great movie, but this time I saw it through parent goggles. And parent goggles change everything.

Once your kid is born, your parent goggles go on and they never come off. It doesn’t matter if it’s date night and you’re seeing a classic coming-of-age movie that once gave you butterflies. When you see the rebellious teenage girl going way past third base with the stereotypical “bad boy”, your parent goggles make the whole scene look different.

“What is she thinking?” I said to myself. “Doesn’t she know how dangerous that is? That guy is a total thug. And she could get pregnant! Her parents would absolutely freak out if they could see her right now.”

Of course, I already knew that the character wasn’t going to get pregnant but my parent goggles forced me to see everything in a new way, and I couldn’t help but worry. Because suddenly she wasn’t just a rebellious girl in cute cowboy boots – she was somebody’s daughter.

And then when the lead character got pulled over by the cops for playing music too loud in the car, I wasn’t outraged at the injustice like I was when I was an 11-year-old movie goer. Part of me kept thinking, “Well, you know, the cop does have a point. The music was way too loud, and it really can damage your hearing. Why does he have to play it so loud?”

Then when the bad guy challenged the good guy to a crash derby duel using old school busses, I nearly yelled at the screen: “This is crazy! You’re going to get yourselves killed! “

It all worked out in the end and the movie wrapped up in the same great way it did in 1984. But when the credits rolled and Tom and I walked out

of the theater, we suddenly felt about a million years old. Everybody in the movie looked so young, but the two of us were feeling decidedly not-so-footloose. Parent goggles are great for raising kids, but they can be a real buzz-kill at the movies. Pass the popcorn.

Gwen Rockwood is a mom to three great kids, wife to one cool guy, a newspaper columnist and co-owner of To read previously published installments of The Rockwood Files, click here. (Photo credit: Maliah Pinkleton Photography)