I went and saw Ladybird at the movies with my son.
“Don’t call it a date night,” he shrieked when I called it a date night for the 47th time.
“But it’s a lovely night out with my favourite son,” I told my only son.
“You can call it a mate night,” he answered begrudgingly.
The mate night came about because we’d seen the trailer for Ladybird and Max really wanted to go. He even wrote the opening night on the calendar so we’d remember to go see it as soon as it opened.
It felt like a sophisticated film to take a 13-year-old boy to see. It felt like there might be a few conversation starters in there, so I gladly put it on the calendar and surprised him with the tickets when he forgot all about it.
We went for a meal before our movie and talked about what it might be about.
“What makes you want to see this film so much?” I asked him, secretly thinking that he might have a small crush on Saoirse Ronan, because don’t we all? I even googled how to pronounce her name (it’s sur-sha, like a whisper).
“Ladybird reminds me of someone I know,” he answered.
“A girl at school?” I asked.
“Yeah, a nice one.”
Once we were inside the cinema, Max casually mentioned that he’d heard there was a sex scene in the film.
“Really?” I asked, horrified that I was about to watch a sex scene with my 13-year-old son.
“Do you think I’ll throw up?” he worried.
I thought that potentially I might be the one to throw up if the sex scene was too ridiculously porno or graphic. Sitting there squirming in the dark while my teenager lapped it up. Oh god, the horror.
Not long into the film, I knew we were in safe hands. Ladybird is a little glimpse into the everyday life of an everyday teenager and her everyday mother. It’s a familiar teen story that is told in thick layers of pathos and charm. It is the kind of film about girls that boys need to watch.
I liked Ladybird a great deal and I could tell that Max was just as fascinated by her. When it came time for her to have sex for the first time, an awkward, fumbling, disappointing muck of a thing, it was as gently depicted as the rest of the film. I actually had tears in my eyes in gratitude to the director Greta Gerwig for introducing my son to sex from a girl’s perspective in such a real and humble way.
“Was that sex?” Max asked later.
“A kind-of sex,” I answered. “Sex doesn’t always go as well as you hoped.”
“He clearly wasn’t what she hoped for, that’s for sure. Does it get better for her?”
“I’m almost certain that it does. When you find the right person, it gets better for everyone. It gets really, really better, in fact.”
And that was that. Stage 2 of the birds and the bees talk completed. Where we effortlessly segued from the Interrelate-awkwardness of the fundamentals of procreation into the gloriousness that is having sex for all the right reasons.
“I’m still totally not having sex for decades,” Max later mentioned.
“Excellent choice, son,” I agreed.
Note that the Australian edit of Ladybird received a lower rating (M, rather than MA15+) than the international release. Ladybird is available to download now.