Tonight my oldest asked our little guy, age 6, when was his best day ever. He answered, “Today. Right now.”
Because he was finally watching a few minutes of Star Wars. The actual movie–not the Lego’s version that I hoped would appease him a little longer. He was so excited he could hardly sit still. My little guy, Cooter, knows more about Star Wars than a lot of people who have seen all six movies. He asks a lot of questions and pieces it together in his mind. He KNOWS this stuff. All I can say is if he puts this much energy and passion into learning REAL history, we are all set.
While he and his friends were watching, my friends and I talked about movies we watched growing up, which echoed a conversation my husband and I had earlier today. I realize I am way overprotective of what my children watch. (I ask folks in doctor’s offices to change the channels–I mean, some of the junk they have on in there is downright ridiculous!) Today I might have gotten to the heart of the matter.
Disney’s “Sleeping Beauty” was one absolutely SCARY movie. I mean seriously, have you seen the big battle scene between Prince Phillip and Maleficent? That’s the stuff nightmares are made of people. I know this. For. A. Fact. It was made in 1959. For children. I guess dancing forest critters and the bumbling sweetness of the fairies, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather were all supposed to outweigh the darkness that was Maleficent and her curse. However, when I first watched it about fifteen years after it was made, it made no matter. I was terrified. We even had the soundtrack album, and the pictures on the record cover could give me the heebie-jeebies. She changes, Maleficent does. Into a horrible, terrifying, HUGE fire-breathing dragon. Prince Phillip is almost toast. Literally. Okay, enough of that. Too close to bedtime. Suffice to say, when that movie is in your memory banks, you remember it and try to keep your own little ones away from such as that for as long as you can.
My friends and I talked about other movies and television shows we watched growing up. Horror movies, soap operas, Love Boat and Fantasy Island were amongst those mentioned. (Yes, we all agreed, Tattoo was a creeper. He often just hung out, staring. What was that about?) I remember my parents picking a weekend, usually in the heat of the summer or over a school break, and going to the video rental store. For one special price we could rent a Video Disc Player and something like ten movies on video discs, not due back until Monday by noon. Wow. We camped out in the living room, all of us together, taking bathroom or snack breaks between the movies. My spot was lying sideways in the chair that now sits in my Sister’s beautiful room. We watched so many different movies, I can’t remember them all, but I do know most of those weekends were Western weekends. People tend to remember Westerns with a nostalgic look on their faces, but let me tell you, they weren’t pretty. In hindsight I shudder at just how violent some were. We were partial to John Wayne and the old classic westerns that had great one-liners and funny oddball characters. They were wholesome, but a lot of folks got shot up. Does that even sound right?
And so I obsess. I watched all those movies starting when I was probably 10 or 12. But my sisters were younger than that. So, am I being too overprotective with my own children? Our Princess, eight and a half years old, who wants to watch the newer Disney shows designed for tweens and teens. Our little guy, Cooter, who desperately wants to watch Star Wars. Whose best day ever was this one right here when he got to watch 25 minutes of Star Wars, Episode 4. And who can’t wait to watch the rest. He keeps assuring me he wasn’t scared and that it was AWESOME.
And now the new Lone Ranger movie has come out. My little guy sees the pictures on cereal boxes and on Lego’s boxes (thank you for that, oh Lego’s Wise Ones). He wants to see it. This one is a “no” (it’s PG-13 for goodness’ sake), but what about the old, original episodes? Is he old enough to handle them? Zorro? Gunsmoke?
So, just wondering, what do you remember watching? How old were you when you first saw Star Wars? Sleeping Beauty? How old were your children or other little ones in your life when they saw these movies? How old were you or your child or someone you knew before they saw their first PG-13 movie? The old Westerns–pros and cons?
We get one shot at doing this right, and I’m really trying. Nobody ever said raising children would be easy, and that’s a good thing. Because it’s not the least bit easy. At all.