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Cinematters - Daddy Daycare


By Kelly Parthen and Shannon Payette Seip

Frazzled fathers prove the importance of priorities

Is it impossible to pry your son away from his video game at dinnertime? Would your daughter rather pore over her sticker collection than talk to Grandma on the phone? Are road trips a drag because your kids put on their headphones instead of joining the family conversation?

If your kids ever have trouble putting relationships before things, the new film Daddy Day Care can help them understand why people should be a top priority. And our "Ping-Pong Priorities" activity brings the lesson to life.

In Daddy Day Care, advertising executives Charlie (Eddie Murphy) and Phil (Jeff Garlin) are fired from their high-paying jobs after their vegetable cereal campaign flops. When the men struggle to find new jobs, they decide to become stay-at-home dads. But instead of relishing their newfound family time, the men dwell on the fancy offices and fat paychecks they now lack.

Unhappy with the only preschool program in town--the no-nonsense Chapman Academy--Charlie and Phil decide to start an entertaining child care program called Daddy Day Care. They quickly learn that taking care of active, sugar-craving children is not all funny business.

Charlie and Phil finally learn to bond with their sons after taking the time to get to know their boys better. When presented with a lucrative job opportunity, however, the men must decide what's more important--high-powered positions, with all the physical trappings of success, or the relationships they've developed with the children.

Family Activity: Ping-Pong Priorities
Your children don't need to earn six-figure salaries to struggle with putting people before possessions. Together, play "Ping-Pong Priorities" to learn why relationships matter most.

Ask your children what Charlie valued at the beginning of the movie--from his cell phone to his luxury car. Then ask your children about the things they value--from bicycles to baseball trophies. Discuss how these things aren't necessarily bad to have. A bicycle is fun to ride and can help you get to school. Your trophy reminds you of your team working hard to be number one.

Next, talk about what Charlie valued at the end of the movie--from his family to the kids at Daddy Day Care. Ask your kids about the important people in their lives--from family and friends to teachers and coaches.

Finally, discuss what happened when Charlie put possessions before people: Charlie's wife got upset when he missed their meeting at Chapman Academy. His son was lonely because Charlie didn't take the time to understand him. How did Charlie's life change after he focused more on his family and less on his fortune?

Materials needed:
Colored markers
Ping-Pong balls
Puffed rice cereal
A medium-sized jar or vase

Using colored markers, write the name of somebody special on one side of a Ping-Pong ball. On the other side of the ball, draw the person's face. Continue until you've colored all the balls. Set aside.

Tell your kids that the jar represents their lives, waiting to be filled with people and things. The cereal stands for their things--from a cool pair of shoes to their favorite CD. The Ping-Pong balls represent the important people in their lives.

Have your children pour the cereal in the jar until the jar's full. Then try to put the Ping-Pong balls in the jar--they won't go in, because there's no room. Explain that if life is full of only things, there's no room for the people who are important to you.

Pour the cereal back in the box. This time, have your children put the Ping-Pong people inside the jar first, then pour in the cereal. The cereal should fill in the spaces between the Ping-Pong people. Explain that just like Charlie learned at Daddy Day Care, life still has plenty of room for your favorite things when you put people first.

E-mail your comments or ideas to [email protected].

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