There's no joy like watching my wild child, now an adult, struggle with his own wild child.
"Was I really like this?" he'll ask. To which I quickly reply, "No. Much worse."
But I wasn't prepared for the moment when "what goes around comes around" came around to me.
Like most 30-somethings raising kids, I had my mother-in-law stories. A personal favorite was about the time my mom-in-law took our preteen sons to see -- gasp -- "The Blue Lagoon."
"What was she thinking?" I asked anyone who would listen. After all, the movie featured Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins enjoying "love as it was intended to be" -- au naturale -- on a tropical island.
Never would I do such a thing, I vowed, as I hauled the boys to every available version of "101 Dalmatians."
In that same spirit -- or so I thought -- I took my 5-year-old grandson last week to see "Dog Days." He loves dogs, and the pups on the movie poster were, aww, so cute.
After 20 minutes of rip-roaring previews highlighting the PG-13-rated "Ant Man and the Wasp" ("Wow, I wanna see that one!") and "Bumblebee" ("See 'im? See 'im? He's a giant bee!"), I congratulated myself on a more redemptive choice: a rom-com that celebrates rescuing strays.
But it wasn't five minutes before I had my own "Blue Lagoon" moment. An adorable fluffy pup trotted out of a back bedroom with a red lace bra in his mouth -- the first clue that star Nina Dobrev's character had a cheating boyfriend back there.
"I don't think this is such a great movie," I whispered, suddenly noticing that I was the only one who'd brought a child.
What followed was a quick exit to switch tickets to the later-starting "Christopher Robin." Safe enough, I was sure.
"Let's play games first!" proposed my charge, pulling me toward the arcade. Remembering the last 20 minutes of high-testosterone previews, I agreed, which led to $2 worth of tranquilizing dinosaurs in "Jurassic Park," which he was disturbingly good at.
Eager to move to more tranquil space, I insisted we get to "Christopher Robin," which in the first few minutes moved from a delightful tea party in the woods to Christopher's father's funeral and an explosive World War II scene -- all the while flipping through book pages he could not yet read.
"I don't think this is such a great movie," he whispered. We exited again.
I try to learn something from my fiascos, and from this one I learned there's a web page, commonsensemedia.org, that rates the heck out of these movies' content. But even that is not foolproof. "Dumbo" seemed to come out OK, and my daughter-in-law told me the story is way too sad. Some days, you just do the best you can.
On this particular day, we had better luck going home and constructing a 48-piece floor puzzle of a pterodactyl, playing a memory game and agreeing that when we played Go Fish, he could make up the rules as he went along. It should be great training for being a grandfather.
As for my late mother-in-law, I think I'll finally forgive her.
Balancing Act author Pat Snyder is a northwest Columbus resident and life-balance speaker and coach. Find her at PatSnyderOnline.com.