Growing up, I was very sheltered. My parents did a very thorough job of shielding my young, impressionable mind from books, movies, TV shows, conversations, or games that contained anything scary, violent, vulgar, or even slightly suggestive.
I won't go into details about how far they went in protecting their children from anything of questionable content. As a young child, when I didn't know any different, it was fine. When I got a little older, well, it was less fine.
It was one of those things that made me say "When I'm the mom..."
Well, now I am the mom. And I've come to realize that I'm nearly as protective as my mom was. My boys are only allowed certain websites on the internet. If they are searching Google, it is done with a parent. We own a Wii with four exercise based games (and had them stop playing boxing on the Wii, because they were starting to reenact it.) They are only allowed to watch a few channels on TV. They have never seen a movie with a PG-13 rating.
I hadn't realized how protective I've been of them until recently. Bug was invited to a Harry Potter birthday party, and I realized that he didn't know anything about Harry Potter. Me, one of the biggest, most obsessed Harry Potter fan, has shielded her children from this. We haven't read the books, we haven't watched any of the movies.
Other things they haven't been exposed to: Star Wars, Spiderman, Indiana Jones, any non Wii-Fit games. They know the objects when they see them, mostly from items in the toy aisle at Wal-Mart, but not because they've watched any of the movies or played any of the games.
I've been able to get away with it because they are so young. Or at least, that's what I've been telling myself. They are just too young. I don't want to scare them. And believe me, my boys scare easy. Monkey still runs upstairs and watches the TV from around the corner of the stairs during the first part of The Fox and The Hound and covers his eyes during The Polar Express. I change the channel during scary commercials.
I want to share movies of my childhood with them. I want to share Star Wars, E.T., Indiana Jones. I want to explore the world of Harry Potter with them. I keep thinking that the first Harry Potter book and movie would be fine. The second one too. But Harry Potter grows up much faster than my boys. We would get through seven years in Harry's life before we got through one of Bug's and Monkey's. I feel that the last several books and movies are still too grown up, scary, and intense to share with two little wide eyed boys.
I've recently watched parts of E.T, Star Wars, Spiderman, Indiana Jones, and Transformers. And every time I think that they are still too much.
I don't want the boys to be afraid. I don't want to desensitize them. I honestly don't want to deal with the sleeplessness that comes along with little kid nightmares.
I hated being the girl who wasn't allowed to go to parties, because they might watch movies I wasn't allowed to see. I hated being the kid who didn't understand all the pop culture references my friends made. I hated being the naive, clueless one.
And part of me hates that I'm doing that to my own children.
Obviously, I don't want to protect them from everything. In the wise words of Dori the Fish: "You can't never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo."
I'm still not ready to tear down all the walls. We're not going to sit down and watch Rambo together anytime soon (Actually, probably not ever.)
But it's time to at least lower the shield a little bit. We've decided to start reading Harry Potter together as a family this summer. I'm so excited to start sharing this with my boys.
And if anything is still too scary, I still have have my maternal right of the fast forward button.