My boys insisted that they wanted to see the film Boy In The Striped Pajamas on Friday night. Only the two oldest were up, and we were going to watch a "big person" movie together. I warned them what the movie might have in it, that it was about Nazis and concentration camps and hate. And that it would probably be very, very sad. Even though I told them, they wanted to watch it anyway, and I let them.
During the movie about an eight year old boy who finds out the horror inflicted by his Nazi father as he stumbles into it, I heard my sons ask,
"Who would do that?" and "Why would they think that?" and "How did people let them?"
If you have seen it, you know there weren't many graphic scenes...a lot implied though. And my boys know how to read implications. At one point, they even questioned if it was a horror film because they just didn't understand the Nazi mentality and the sheer brokenness of the victims. The hatred displayed by the Nazis in the movie stirred an agonizing pain in all of us--over seventy years after they held any power.
When the credits rolled, my nearly eleven year old baby boy rolled over and cried in his pillow. And the next morning he said, "I can't believe how sad that was."
It's hard to watch your child hurt because of the suffering inflicted on humanity. It makes you question whether introducing the darkness of the human condition will shade their growing up with a gloomy perspective of the world, and chip their hearts into a cynical lens of humanity's capability.
Seriously, years ago I would have said, "No PG + movies until they are well into their teens." And besides movies, I would have probably sugar-coated much of what they asked to know, probably even steering their eyes, ears, friendships, schooling...etc...into the perfect mold I thought would give them a full 18 years of innocence.
Ha. YEAH RIIIIIGGGGHHHHTTTT! We all hear time and time again, that our culture is degrading and our kids are losing their innocence faster and faster. And it's true in many ways. And there are things I just don't think my adolescents need to see or hear.
But I didn't think it through. I didn't think about the valuable lessons that just aren't rated G.
I didn't trust that my kids' own humanity would recoil at evil, and compassion might take root in face of tragedy.
Helicopter parent? Yep, a few years ago I was.
But now? As they grow, and learn, and hurt, I just can't risk keeping them in the bubble of happy endings. Unlike the little boy in the movie who was oblivious to the Nazi horror until he stumbled upon it himself, there is a better way to equip my kids for the depravity out there. I can walk the path of knowing beside my kids, and allow the world to be seen--from a distance, in small doses--using its ugliness as an instigator to adjust their moral compasses to truth, love, and compassion.
They might lose some innocence along the way to adulthood, but if they are going to grow into humane adults, then it's worth it...and necessary...for a future generation of protectors of the innocent.
So this mama drama is real stuff...not just silliness...this is the drama I must endure to get to the parenting meat. The very real life junk that must be processed in a very life-changing way.
My kids' hearts depend on it.