My 4-year-old son recently succumbed to a stomach bug that was so bad we used up all our designated Puke Towels (good for both kids and cats!), moved on to Muddy Dog towels, went right through all the Human Towels and ended up at Please God Please Send More Towels. Long story short, all screen time restrictions were lifted and my Netflix recommendations are now really screwed up.

I worry that he is, too, because plenty of movies in our Virus Film Festival terrified him. We made it through “The Muppet Movie” and “The Tigger Movie.” We had to stop “Finding Nemo” (Nemo’s mom’s death? No biggie. Shark? Biggie.) and “Frankenweenie” (sadness at Sparky getting hit by a car; terror at [spoiler]).

I don’t envy the intensity of his experiences, because I remember them well. Even now, when a movie gets too scary or intense for me, my strategy is to look around the theater and repeat “it’s just a movie.” And when my son and I were looking for something else to watch, I vetoed “Dumbo” and “The Fox and the Hound,” not because I worried about how he’d react, but because I remember how soul-destroying those films were for me as a kid.

It’s sometimes frustrating to stop a movie in the middle when I know he’d love it if he’d just see it out (it’s also tough to explain death to him over and over again, especially since it means explaining yet again that, yes, my daddy is dead and no, we won’t ever see him again). I hope he doesn’t lose that ability to become entirely absorbed in a film. In that sense, I hope the apple stays really close to the tree.