April Jeppson: The magic of Friday pizza and movie night

Published 8:42 pm Thursday, September 20, 2018

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


Brian and I are snuggled up on the couch with our three children. There are pizza crusts and picked off pepperonis sprinkled on the abandoned plates on the coffee table. All eyes are wide and staring at the TV screen waiting to see what happens next. This is a typical Friday night at the Jeppsons’.

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A few years ago, my husband and I decided our children needed to learn how to behave in restaurants. I know you’ve been there. One kid crawling under the table while the other ones cries that they wanted chicken nuggets, not strips. So we decided that on Fridays we would go out to eat as a family and get them acclimated with public dining.

One week would be parents’ choice and the other week the kids could decide. We probably did this for three months, rotating through the various eating establishments within driving distance. It was kind of expensive and, to be honest, taking three kids under the age of 7 was a little taxing. So we started going out to eat one week and staying home for dinner and a movie the next. We had no set menu at first, but it soon became pizza and movie night. The kids liked it so much that we quickly just did pizza and a movie every Friday.

I previously mentioned cost being a partial factor in why we stopped going out to eat every week, so I feel the need to mention that when I say we eat pizza every Friday, four out of five times it’s homemade. I did the math, and for less than $5 I could make enough food that we even have leftovers. I know some people are intimidated by cooking or making dough from scratch, but I promise you it’s not that hard. There’s obviously a learning curve, but the payoff is huge and totally worth the effort.

I can literally say we’ve been doing pizza night for years and my kids still get excited about it. They start asking on Thursday if we know what movie we’ll be watching. Our kids, like I’m sure many of yours, enjoy watching TV. We tend to watch a movie they’ve never seen, so there’s genuine excitement as to what new film we’ll unleash on them.

Just because our youngest is 4 does not mean that every movie is a cartoon. I honestly don’t think I’d continue with this tradition if I had to watch a cartoon every Friday night. I remember being a kid and having to sit with my parents while they watched “Murphy Brown.” We had one TV and I sat on the floor and I barely understood what was going on, but I still enjoyed it. I think it’s important kids don’t get to choose everything, and that includes the movies we watch each week.

Brian and I love to watch movies from our childhood that we think our kids will enjoy. This has been both a delight and a cautionary tale. If you’ve never rewatched a funny movie from the ’80s with your small children, let me tell you. There is swearing, and — even though it’s rated PG — there might even be a little nudity, too. There’s nothing like coughing really loud to cover up a choice word you don’t want your toddler to start repeating. With that said, if you’re familiar enough with the movie and you time your coughs out just right, the kids will never even hear it.

Some of our children’s favorite movies are not the ones we would have thought. I remember looking over at all three of my children as tears streamed down their faces toward the end of “Harry and the Hendersons” — you know, when the dad is trying to save Big Foot’s life by telling him to scram and get out of there. Well, it broke my kids’ hearts. They loved that big fella and were overjoyed when the movie turned around with a happy ending.

Or the time when I was just so tired that I didn’t care what movie we watched, as long as it wasn’t a cartoon. Here enters “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.” Personally, I wanted to watch it and didn’t care whether my kids enjoyed it at all. (Don’t act like you’ve never been there.) Well, they loved it! My son was so captivated by the idea that they could time travel and then talk to these historical figures. Oh, and not to mention they were able to get their presentation done in the nick of time.

The beauty of most of the movies and sitcoms from our childhood, is they have happy endings. Sure they’re a tad cheesy and unrealistic but after a long week, it’s perfect. I don’t know about you, but come 6 p.m. Friday, I’m tired and ready to relax. I’m so thankful that our “how to eat at a restaurant” training turned into a snugglefest in our family room, because watching a lighthearted film about a Jamaican bobsled team while my children giggle is my favorite way to end the week. I highly suggest you try it.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.