I started to watch my movie and didn't even blink when all three kids joined me and started to watch along. Now there are certainly worse things for the kids to have watched than a chaste vampire-werewolf-human love triangle aimed for the teen-set. But I wondered, later, why I had covered their eyes when Bella and Edward set to smooching but didn't bother when some one had their head ripped off. It made me think that perhaps I am not the best judge of what is appropriate for kids.
Now this might be a good time to pause and to explain that as a kid I was always drawn to completely inappropriate material. Or maybe the more apt explanation is that I did not come hard wired with the intrinsic knowledge of what is appropriate material for a certain age group. I'm not saying that the kids watched the Hellraiser series when they should have been watching Baby Einstein. But I do believe that my mother-in-law did threaten me with dire consequences if Olivia's first words were vampire or blood for me having read aloud several of the Interview with a Vampire series as I breast fed.
In junior high my own movie and book interests certainly would have been labeled as "Mature Content". I liked the PG-13 stuff just fine but I much preferred the R or, even better and when available, the NC-17 books. I discovered the horror genre early and it has stuck hard as I am still drawn to any and all horror or supernatural related materials.
And with this in mind I have tried to compiled a list of THINGS THAT ARE QUITE INAPPROPRIATE TO WATCH WITH YOUR YOUNG CHILDREN. This list isn't meant to be exhaustive but certainly documents my lessons learnt so far:
- Musicals. Unless the movie is stamped by either Disney or Pixar, and even then proceed with caution. I can safely say that not all musicals are kid friendly. I grew up watching Grease and Grease 2 and thought nothing of it. I allowed the kids to watch the first third of The Rocky Horror Picture Show before I suddenly remembered where the rest of the movie was heading. (We turned it off right after Sweet Transvestite and before they get to the lab.) In my defense I have drawn the line at allowing them to watch Sweeney Todd.
- Anything originally aired on HBO or Showtime. Dexter and True Blood. Enough said.
- The Movie Jaws. Not if I ever want my kids to swim at Clear Lake or Grand Beach ever again. Although I would like to note for the record that Scott saw this movie- with his parents- when he was 5. Maybe I'm not the only one with impaired judgment.
- Music videos and very specifically ...Lady Gaga music videos. I downloaded the Lady Gaga video "Telephone" and forgot to screen it BEFORE letting Finn watch it. I then spent the next 60 minutes watching the same 9 minute video over and over and hearing myself answer his questions with answers like "no honey, I don't know why she is only wearing tape and high heels in prison." Yes, I could, and probably should, have said no to him watching it again but he seemed so entertained and enthralled with the dancing felon/ fashion victim/ artiste. He still asks to watch "the bad Gaga video". And I still let him.
Okay- this one is the worst- and I have appologized many times to both Colton and to his mother for
- My role in Colton's viewing of the original Swedish version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This one is 100% on me. I read the books. I knew what was going to happen. Very bad judgement here. I had a 12 year old boy watch a 2.5 hour movie in Swedish as thanks for looking after my kids all day. (Hey, fun times at Aunty Jennie's!) I had managed to forget about the two extremely violent rape scenes until they were just about to happen on screen. I managed to cover Colton's head with a blanket and sit on him just in time to muffle the sound, catching him unawares as he was trying to read English subtitles fast enough to follow the plot. Thankfully he grew frustrated with having to read the movie and I didn't have to tackle him again for the murderous finish.
Tomorrow my goal will to be watch as much icarly and SpongeBob as I can stomach with the kids. It may not be violent Swedish cinema but at least it is something I can watch with the kids without feeling like I am spoiling their childhood and making them grown up way too fast. They can figure out that stuff all on their own. Let's just say that when they start borrowing books off my bookshelf I will know what they are up to.