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Little House of Indoctrination

Dan and I are not good at Netflix. We put a bunch of stuff in our queue and forget about it until we’re ready to watch a movie. Then we open up the red envelope and find that we’ve gotten some lame, stupid movie that neither of us admits to actually adding to our queue. When I’m stressed or anxious, we always end up with something scary or action-packed. When we’re feeling romantic, we end up with a kids’ movie. We cannot plan it right to save our lives.

In the last month we’ve sent back several movies without ever watching them. I even pulled one movie out of the envelope at the mailbox, took one look at it, put it back in the mailbox and lifted the little red flag. So, when Little House on the Prairie, Season One arrived a couple of weeks ago, I almost did the same thing. I loved the show as a kid, almost to the point of obsession, talking like Laura, dressing like Laura (my mom made me the complete outfit, bonnet and all), pretending in all ways that I WAS Laura Ingalls Wilder.

I had put the series in our queue years ago out of nostalgia when we first signed up with Netflix. But now, I just didn’t feel like watching it. Then tonight, we shattered the kids’ hopes of going to a big party the school was having in order to stay home away from the germs. In an effort to placate them, Dan said we’d make cookies and watch a movie at home instead. When the cookie-making went far too late into the evening, I had to find something short to watch. Perfect. An episode of LHOTP.

They seemed unimpressed when I announced the idea but we snuggled up on the couch and by the time the girls had fumbled their way down the flower-strewn meadow during the opening credits, my kids were HOOKED. When Pa broke his ribs, they gasped! “How will they grow their food for the WINTER?!” Magoo asked, all concerned for the fallen pioneer.

Tears came to my eyes more than once as I remembered the joy of watching that show as a little kid, as I talked to the kids about what we were learning, about love, service, hard work, and family unity. It was a totally didactic viewing experience, and my kids loved it. They enjoyed being sermonized. As it ended, they were already planning their reenactment games.

“You know, when I was little, I was Laura and my big sister was Mary,” I told them.

“Oh yeah! I can be Mary and Magoo can be Pa. But then who will Dad be?”

“When Dad plays Little House on the Prairie, he’ll likely be one of those little icicles forming in Hell,” I thought. What I said was, “Dad could be Doc Baker. He’s so kind.”

They were stoked. And now I have visions of myself using their excitement to my advantage. Laylee tortures Magoo. I say, “Would Mary do something like that to her little brother?” Laylee looks down at her feet. “I’m sorry Brother. Let us sing some hymns and make a corn cake of forgiveness before we feed the chickens tonight.”

Yes. I will definitely be moving the more pious episodes up to the top of my queue. I will not rest until the kids begin calling me “Ma” and doing everything I ask them with nothing but a good Stern Caroline Look from me.