I just posted another article to Grounded Parents, the secular parenting blog to which I contribute. This article talks about my impatient desire to share stories, books, and movies with my kids, even though they aren’t ready yet.
I love my kids. They’re great kids. But they’re scaredy cats.
- When The Muppets came out a few years ago, I had to take the then-five-year-old out of the theater because he was screaming in terror whenever ominous music indicated a bad guy was about to speak.
- After begging us for months to watch Cars 2, they ended up hiding their eyes and demanding we turn off the TV during the movie.
- They have spent the last two autumns avidly listening to the soundtrack to The Nightmare Before Christmas, but they both refuse to watch the movie quite yet. “Maybe next year,” they say, “when we’re six and eight.”
- Recently the five-year-old cowered in fear during The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That because a friendly cartoon gorilla was making a bed. Making a bed.
This gets annoying. I have friends whose seven-year-olds have read the whole Harry Potter series multiple times, but my boys don’t want to start on the first book. I would love to reward their interest in Darth Vader and Yoda Legos by introducing them to the source material, but they’re too timid to watch the movies yet.
But you know what? The kids are all right, and my impatient desire to share these stories with the boys needs to wait. As much as I want to expose them to Middle Earth, Prydain, and even Narnia (with a watchful eye for the religious influence), they know that they’re not ready for it. And that’s OK. Heck, maybe they’re even right to be scared by some of these movies. After all, Cars 2 included a scene of a car being literally tortured to death. WTF, Disney??? Seriously? Torture in a G-Rated cartoon?
Other kids are ready for stories with peril and danger and death and music in minor keys, but mine aren’t yet. Soon enough, though, they’ll dig into those books and movies and everything else, but they’re getting there at their own pace. They’ll have many years of adolescence and even adulthood to dive into the classics their old man loves and all the other stories out there, but they’re not ready for it. Yet.
I just have to be patient. Eventually, they will be ready to learn from the stories that currently scare them. And when they are ready, the fantastic lessons in science and critical thinking in Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality will be waiting for them, and I’ll be happy to watch them take those steps on their own.