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Celebrate Auntie's Day with Movies About, Who Else? Aunts!
When my nephew was just 2 years old, I took him to see his very first movie in a movie theater. He was so mesmerized, he wouldn't sit down. He just stood there, completely engrossed in the wonder before him.
A couple of years later, his little sisters joined us for their first movie in a theater. And as my life became more and more filled with more nieces and my nephew, I learned how to shield a child from the "scary part" of the movie, revel in singing out loud with my little nieces at the sing-along version of Disney's Frozen, and make sure the children have a special treat of their choosing to snack on. And after the movie, I gather the children, now including teens, to discuss the themes and lessons learned, encouraging each niece and nephew to offer their age-wise thoughts and perspectives.
Watching a movie with my nephew and nieces, whether in the theater or at home, is one of my favorite auntie activities. Plus, kids always seem to remember who took them to see their favorite movie. I always feel lucky when it's one we saw together.
We're not just creating memories, though. Research shows that the dedicated time an aunt spends with her nieces and nephews, what I've dubbed "qual-auntie time," helps develop their social, emotional, and cognitive skills. Co-watching movies offers aunts the opportunity to open discussions around the topics and issues the movies raise and help explain what the children may not understand. Plus, snuggling together at the movie theater, or on the couch, helps develop that ever-lasting bond between auntie and child.
The special relationship between aunts and their nieces and nephews is so unique, I established Auntie's Day, a national day to honor and celebrate all the cool aunts, great-aunts, godmothers, and all women who love a child not-their-own. This Sunday, July 22, is the 10th annual Auntie's Day. If an aunt is fortunate enough to be with the children she loves this Sunday -- or any day -- a great idea for "qual-auntie time" together is an aunt-themed movie. There are several movies for kids of all ages that feature an aunt figure, from the movies we loved as children to more recent movies aunties can discover with our nieces and nephews. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Ramona and Beezus (2010): Aunt Bea, age 6+
Ramona’s Aunt Bea seems to the only one who really understands Ramona and not only accepts her quirks, thinking Ramona is “extraordinary.” When Ramona’s beloved Aunt Bea says goodbye before moving to Alaska with her new husband, Ramona gives her a locket with her photo inside. Nieces and nephews will take comfort in knowing no matter how much childhood trouble they may get themselves into, a beloved aunt can be their champion.
The Wizard of Oz (1939): Auntie Em, age 6+
Dorothy is following the yellow brick road with the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard of Oz so that Dorothy can find her way home to her Auntie Em. Who better to introduce children to this iconic American movie that their own auntie, introducing them to the magical land of Oz, ruby slippers, and the idea that home is where the heart is.
Big Hero 6 (2014): Aunt Cass, age 7+
Aunt Cass becomes a "par-aunt" when her nephews Hiro and Tadashi become orphans. While first unsure of her ability to raise her nephews, Aunt Cass is a natural, comforting them in their grief and disciplining them when they're wrong. Most of all, it's Aunt Cass' encouragement for her nephews to pursue their dreams that makes her the hero of their story.
Incredibles 2 (2018): Aunt Edna (Edna Mode), age 8+
Edna Mode is a fashion icon who designs superhero costumes for the Incredibles family. She's reluctant at first to babysit Jack-Jack ("I'm not a baby person"), but her affection for Jack-Jack grows when she literally sees herself in him. She designs a super suit that enables Jack-Jack's family to appreciate and understand his superpowers. Aunt Edna shows children how even a devoted aunt by choice can see their special talents and champion their abilities.
Spider Man: Homecoming (2017): Aunt May, age 10+
Debuting as a younger, hipper aunt than the classic version, Spider Man: Homecoming's Aunt May is an independent woman who takes care of herself and her nephew, Peter Parker, when she's widowed. This cool Aunt May makes sure Peter has fun, even as school and his job at Stark Enterprises become stressful. And while Aunt May can tease her teen nephew playfully, she also encourages him to go outside his comfort zone to reach his potential.
Wonder Woman (2017): Antiope, age 12+
General Antiope, Diana's aunt, believes in her niece, always has her back, and helps her discover her true powers to later become Wonder Woman. Diana looks up to her aunt Antiope and uses what she's taught her to save the world against evil. For any child who aspires to be like Wonder Woman, they'll come to realize how a devoted aunt can help get them there.
Jurassic World (2015): Aunt Claire, age 13+
In this Jurassic Park movie, we set our sights on Claire, who runs the new, fully functioning Isla Nublar. Claire is also aunt to brothers Zach and Gray. And while at first Aunt Claire seems greedy, she might just turn out to be a hero. It's never too late even for teen nieces and nephews to imagine their aunt as their hero.
Auntie Mame (1958): Auntie Mame, not rated
The most iconic aunt of all may be Auntie Mame, the bon vivant (or, as I like to say, bon biv-aunt) whose nephew, Patrick, comes to live with her after his wealthy father dies. In her free-spirited way, Auntie Mame exposes her young nephew to roaring 1920s parties and extravagances -- a lifestyle the executor of Patrick's father's estate did not approve of. While Auntie Mame's way of raising her nephew may be unconventional, he knows she's devoted to him. So here's to all the "aunt-ragious" Auntie Mame-style aunts!