Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Parental Guidance Suggested

My wife and I are experiencing some parenting challenges lately. Not the standard kind of challenges involving the kids being unruly, but the really annoying kind where we are finding out we just suck at parenting. We try to be good parents, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

Our recent problems have all involved movies and their ratings, however, so I think Hollywood might really be to blame.

It started a few months ago when we had a family movie night, and my wife found a copy of Gremlins buried deep in the stack of movies we had forgotten we owned. The case said it was rated PG, and it had been a really long time since either of us had seen it. Our recollections of the plot were the same; the gremlins are cute until you get them wet or feed them after midnight, then they multiply and/or turn naughty and cause harmless mischief.

I guess my wife and I had both blocked out the traumatic experiences of our youth when our parents accidentally let us watch Gremlins, too. We had forgotten that the “naughty” gremlins were a little more than naughty. They actually killed people. We had also forgotten that the mom killed four of them using a fireplace, a knife, a microwave, and a juicer.

We shut it off right after the juicer, but the damage was done. Two of the boys hid all their stuffed animals in the garage and had bad dreams for a week, and the third one spent that week begging us to let him watch the rest of the movie. One of our boys is a little off.
Fast forward a few months, and it appears we have not totally learned our lesson. I just finished reading The Hobbit to the boys, and Son Number Two just finished reading the first book in The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Cool, we thought. We can get them The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit movies for Christmas. That was the extent of the planning. Three minutes later they were on order with Amazon Prime. They arrived two days later and were promptly hidden away until it was time to wrap them.

“Time to wrap these movies. Were these going to be from us or from Santa?”
“Let’s make them from Santa, since we need more stuff from him.”

This is where we suck at parenting.

Did we read the box where it said PG-13?
Are any of our boys thirteen?
No. One of them isn’t even half of thirteen yet.

They tore the movies open on Christmas day and were thrilled by Santa’s generosity and gift-giving skills.

“Can we watch them tonight?”
Hmm, we thought, finally reading the posted ratings on the movie cases and reliving the Gremlins catastrophe one more time in our heads.
“Mommy and Daddy will watch them first to make sure they’re OK.”

We started with the first Hobbit movie. Uh, this movie has orcs. There were no orcs in the book. Not only were there no orcs in the book, but there was certainly no giant white orc with a steel hook for a hand. Gollum was creepy enough on his own without adding scary-ass hobbit-eating creatures that weren’t even in the original story. The kids won’t sleep for a month if they see this.

We tried the first LOTR movie next. More orcs, more Gollum. Forget it.

“Well, boys, we watched the movies and they are a little too scary for you right now. We’ll have to wait a little while to watch them.”

Then the question we were dreading:
“Why would Santa bring us movies that you won’t let us watch?”

What I said:
“Well, I’m not quite sure, Son. I guess he just forgot to check with us.”

What I meant:
Well, Son, sometimes Santa is drunk with Amazon Prime free two-day shipping power and just isn’t thinking straight. Sometimes, after reading a book, Santa foolishly assumes that Hollywood will stick to the actual story instead of adding a bunch of stuff to make it much, much scarier. The bottom line is that sometimes Santa just doesn’t do his homework. I blame Mrs. Claus.

In a classic case of too little, too late, a few days after Christmas I stumbled on an internet article titled “PG Movies that Probably Shouldn’t be PG.” The list included classics like Jaws, Poltergeist, and Indiana Jones, and topping the list was Gremlins.

Well that’s just great. Where were you guys a few months ago?

Like I said, I blame Hollywood.

So this year, our New Year’s resolution is to not suck so much in the parental guidance department. We don’t expect any help from Hollywood, so we’re on our own. As with all of our previous resolutions, however, we’re not going to put any measurability into it, so we expect great success.

Happy New Year, everybody. See you at the movies.


Copyright © 2014 Marc Schmatjen

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