Saturday, June 14, 2008

The time has finally come.

In my estimation, part of having children, and being a responsible parent, is being very careful about what your children are exposed to and when. There are of course some times when you can't control what they come across but most times you can do a great deal to limit what your kids see and hear. For the past seven years we have done all that we can to control what JAM has seen, especially when it comes to the TV and movies that he watches. We've been around children and parents who speak of adult movies as if they were meant for young people, that four-year-olds going to see Spiderman or five-year-olds seeing Shrek are matters of course.

So, in a family where Star Wars has become part of our culture (no, not the real hard-core dress up like Stormtroopers stuff - although this is a great picture isn't it?) it has been really difficult keeping JAM from seeing the actual movies. We've known for a while that he has been getting close to ready so we started with some of the graphic novels last year for Christmas. He has honestly read each of them about 10-15 times. He has gotten his hands on all of my old Star Wars Legos and plays with them all the time. Really... all the time. Then, about two weeks ago JAM started to finally ask about seeing the movies. I smiled, knowing that it had only been a matter of time. But, I didn't say yes right away. I put him off for a while knowing that once this door was open it wasn't going to close again. I also knew that the earlier movies are far easier for younger viewers to handle. The movies made in the late 90's - early 2000's were much darker, more violent, and not at all appropriate for kids his age. So, after a few days of thinking about it we finally thought it was time. After a morning of a family breakfast outside, hanging out, playing in the rain and a little lunch it was naptime for the babies. And then it was movie time. And yes, JAM was out of his mind happy. It was all worth it. And, I am glad we waited until he was old enough to be really ready for it. He got to enjoy it, he understood (at least on a rudimentary level) the themes and why certain characters did what they did, and the smile on his face was just perfect.

I really didn't imagine the fun I would have watching this movie with my boy. I knew I loved the movies, and I knew he loved what he knew of the movies, but as I thought of putting those two things together I really focused on the appropriateness question, not the joy we would share. But as happy as I was for making him wait, I am happy for myself too. I didn't have to sit and cover his eyes or ears, I didn't have to answer any questions, I didn't have to censor anything. We just sat and enjoyed together. It was perfect.

Only now I have to think about how to time the viewing of the next movie. The credits hadn't even begun when he asked "Now can I watch The Empire Strikes Back?" That's my boy.

On a related note, I really recommend the Kids-in-Mind website for all parents to get acquainted with. We use it all the time before we even think about letting the kids see a new movie. It isn't a replacement for seeing the movies ourselves of course but it does give a ton of detail, more than even I think about as I watch the movies.

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