So my wife, our 3 year old daughter, and I all went to see The DArk Knight tonight at the theatre. I realize it was in theaters quite a while ago, but let’s just say there’s a private theater at my office. It’s pretty insane, but I’m not going to go into that right now.
So the movie is about to start when a man, whom I’ve met and spoken to all of 2 times ever, comes up to me and asks, “Has your daughter seen this before?” I told him that she indeed hadn’t, and neither had I. He then went on to say that it’s “pretty scary” and that it’s not really suitable for young kids. I had already somewhat gathered that from the pg-13 rating, but I heard him out. I found it somewhat hard to believe that a Batman movie could be “pretty scary.” Intense? Action packed? Fairly comical at times? Yes to all of them, but scary? I think not. He assured me that it was scary. I smiled politely and thanked him for the warning, hoping he would go away. He did.
No more than 2 minutes had passed when another coworker of mine, whom I’ve never once spoken to outside of work, approached and asked me the same question, “Has your daughter seen this before?” I wanted to reply with, “Yes, and she cheers the joker on every time he pulls out his knife.” Instead I gave a polite no, neither of us have. He then goes on to say the same thing about how scary it is, and how it might not be appropriate for her. I thanked him as well and he went on his merry way.
Then came the final blow. The original man who approached me, who also happened to be “hosting” the event, got up on stage, and gave the same warning to the crowd that he had given me. The interesting point here is that my daughter was one of only a handful of kids in the entire place, and she was the youngest by at least 10 years. I gathered from his wording that he was pretty much referring directly to me. I resisted the urge to take off my shoe and throw it at him, and instead settled in for a good movie.
So the movie began, and played through, and entertained us all. The whole time I was waiting for the “pretty scary” stuff. I can only assume that they were referring to the Joker and his psychotic manner/makeup. Maybe they were referring to two-face. He was a gruesome sight for sure. None of them really made me jump out of my seat though.
I know what you’re thinking, “Of course they didn’t scare you, you’re not a 3 year old girl.” Here’s a little background for you. I studied early childhood development for the better part of my college career. I’m certainly no expert but I picked up a few concepts along the way. One of which is that young children are blank canvases. They are just waiting to be conditioned, influenced, and trained. You could take a child at the age of 3 months and put them into any family you choose. That child will grow up as a mixture of the traits and beliefs of that family. As much as I’d like to deny it, and think that I’m an original creation, I’m not. I’m a mixture of every person that has ever been close to me. In that sense, I am original I suppose.
A few months ago, my girls and I were driving along a road at night. It was pitch black out, no moon, no street lights. Just black all around us. My wife commented on how it was “scary out tonight.” For weeks after that, every time we drove at night, or even went outside at night, our daughter would say “Daddy, it’s scary out here.” She didn’t say it once in her life before that night.
One night, I brought a movie home to watch. My wife looked at the back cover and said, “This looks scary.” For the entire movie (which was somewhat intense) our daughter was commenting on how scary it was. She even had bad dreams that night. A few nights later, I brought home another movie that was just as intense, if not more. I told my wife not to say a word. We all watched it all the way through. No comments from my daughter, no bad dreams.
If no one ever told you that a gun was scary, would you be afraid of one if it was pointed at you? If someone told you that a banana could kill you and you had never been told otherwise, you’d probably wet your pants at the site of the yellow fruit. My daughter is not at all frightened of my handgun, bullets, magazines, knives, or anything of the sort. She knows that they’re for adults only, and that we have them for protection. She knows not to touch them, but she sees me handle them all of the time, and knows that they are not scary, because no one has ever told her that they are. You get the idea.
So what was my daughter’s reaction to this “pretty scary” movie that we watched in its entirety? “Daddy, they’re funny! They’re like halloween!” here we are, back at home. She’s happy, safe, and sound. Had I told her before the movie, “this is kind of scary honey, so you let me know if it’s too scary for you and we’ll leave,” we would have been out of that theatre after the opening credits had started.
My advice to parents around the blogosphere…mind your own business. You may not agree with other people’s parenting practices. I think anyone who tells their kid that santa claus is coming for christmas is a liar and an irresponsible parent. I don’t say a word though. When christmas comes, I just smile and nod. I think that people who baptize their children at birth, and who force them to perform religious ceremonies that they can’t possibly understand, at a very young age are borderline insane. Do I say anything to them? No. If you don’t know someone, don’t comment on their parenting habits unless the child is in immediate and apparent danger. Going to the new Batman move with her mother and father, as opposed to be stuck at home with some babysitter is hardly child abuse.
I’ve created my world carefully and through much painstaking effort. Unless you were invited in, please stay the fuck out of it.