Thursday, March 22, 2012


Innocence doesn't suck.

I was a naive kid and I think that's okay. I'm all for kids being kids for as long as they can be. Children are exposed to adult concepts at an earlier age now, and their little burgeoning minds are filled with questions and confusion more than ever before. I'm not unrealistic. I realize it's not all heffalumps and kittens until age 13. And I know it's impossible to put kids into an opaque bubble where they can be protected from the horrible things this world is full of (I've tried. They won't stay in there. Some excuse about needing oxygen.). Just turn the radio on and you'll hear all sorts of interesting lyrics that are catchy but wildly inappropriate for the nine-and-under set. In my car, Nine will belt out "Make me come alive, come on and turn me on..." with no idea of the meaning. The side of me that's on the cover of Bad Parent Magazine each month thinks it's sort of funny, plus I like Nikki Minaj and David Guetta too, so yes, Nine, I will pump up the volume. The responsible side of me is like, man, where's the Disney station when you need it.

I was in Boise, Idaho last weekend (which I love), seeing one of my oldest and closest friends and her family (who I love - whom I love? {don't start with me, I love them and I majored in design, not English, so whatever}), and I was lucky enough to be there to judge a state dance championship (which I L-L-LOVE). Some of the teams were fantastic, and some of the teams just made everyone want to say bless their hearts. But overall, it reminded me of how it felt when I was on a competitive dance team, and how many hours are devoted diligently to that opaque bubble.

When I was a part of that world in an active sense, I danced 7-9 hours a day at the peak. Combined with school, that doesn't leave a whole lot of time for getting into trouble. Plus I loved it, so I wasn't itching to get out of my bubble and into stuff I for sure wasn't ready for. And I was surrounded by several opportunities to do just that growing up in Los Angeles. But I just went to school, and went to dance practice, and came home to eat, do homework, sleep, and wake up to another day of the same.

(No this isn't turning into a dance resume and also? Disclaimer: Um. Allegedly there were boys and beers and other not so G-rated activities sprinkled in there from about 10th grade on, but there wasn't even a hint of inappropriate early on. It just didn't occur to me. All that busy bee dance practice and whatnot. And? No wonder my body has gone from rock star to rocky road. Who can do all that dancing anymore? Okay, I'm sure people can and do, but obviously, that ain't me no mo'.)

Back to the subject at hand.

Life isn't simple anywhere, for anyone, but in a town like Boise, with all those nice people and poised dancers and wholesome activities, it seems like it could be. I love that. I like a simple life, especially for my kids. I want their little busy lives to be mostly about field trips and math problems and swim medals, and fighting with each other and sleeping amongst pink lava lamps and stuffed animals and zen music (and dog hair). It's my job to teach them about the hard parts of life - death, disaster, mental and physical illnesses, etc. - in bits and pieces as needed. It's hard enough at this age and stage for them to wrap their brains around how come that friend wasn't nice to me today, and what if I'm allergic to something, and what does "diffuse" mean, and no I don't have a crush on that boy, doooon't teeeease meeee. I am not ready to expose them to the crazy scary parts of life yet, and I don't think they are ready for it, even though they beg me to let them read/see/do stuff.

Such as. The can of worms that is The Hunger Games. I know it's trendy, and people do love it, and I'm sure it's a fantastic piece of literature and breakthrough filmmaking. I'm a huge fan! 

Except I'm not. I'm out. I refuse. From my admittedly outside perspective, I see it desensitizing violence and devaluing life. And among children. I've never been one to enjoy watching a fight, and my heart sinks when I think of settling in to watch a child's innocence slipping away and into violence at the hands of an adult. Ick.

Granted, I'm the girl who can't watch "The Lovely Bones" because the thought of something like that happening to my daughters makes me feel like I want to crawl out of my skin, which isn't necessarily how I want to feel while I'm watching a movie. I'm supposed to feel transcended and entertained, and at the very least, so engaged that I forget for a minute just how much buttery popcorn I'm shoveling in.

Which takes me back to seeing The Hunger Games. In real life, we're all advocates for our children and we work to take those kinds of images out of their environment, so for me, it doesn't make sense to fill their minds and eyes with visions of children being forced to literally rip other children apart. Um, no. You're NINE. Howzabout you grab a snack and go play outside instead? Make up a silly language with your sister and try to teach it to the puppy. How about if the most traumatic thing I expose you to today is me making you finish your vegetables. Let's understand the social dynamics of being a pre-pre-teen and get comfortable with that before we start watching kids killing each other and being torn apart emotionally while doing it - all in the name of entertainment. I can think of at least a couple other things I'd rather my kids engage in for the sake of fun. (Witnessing the murder of a child probably isn't on that list.)

I'm not on a high horse, I wouldn't even know where to find one, and while I'm on the subject, I'm afraid of heights, so there. I am positive you wouldn't agree with some of the movies I watch or music I listen to. And you can call me a prude, but just know that if you do, it doesn't make you all creative and potent because Nick Bell beat you to it. He called me 'prude' in 7th grade on the blacktop. I was wearing my green/gray reversible gym clothes and I was only offended for a second because I knew enough to know he was probably right, even though I let him give me my first real kiss the year before. He tasted like carrots. To this day I don't know why.

So if not letting my kids read or see The Hunger Games makes me a prude, then maybe you and Nick Bell are right. And hey, if the gym shorts used to fit...

I'm sticking with the whole innocence doesn't suck thing. I'd rather hold onto that than a movie ticket for now. But feel free to bring me some popcorn to go. 



  1. I read all three books and loved them, but I can't possibly comprehend taking my kids to see that film until they are much older. I am just grasping the concept of letting my eight year old read Diary of a Wimpy Kid and haven't let him watch episode three of Star Wars yet. You know, the one where he goes in and kills a bunch of kids and then melts in a lava bed of fire? Yeah, that one. For the most part, we follow the guidelines at

    1. I've heard of that site, and apparently, I need to go to it. But it's going with your gut (provided your gut hasn't been ripped out by an 11-year old) that matters in the end.

  2. While I read the first book (can't wait to read on), I can't fathom seeing the movies. The whole point is how sick society is for using death as entertainment (which, in my opinion is too close to some reality shows people love--you can crown me the prude queen), yet now it's just that. As an adult I can analyze, dissect, abhor and remove myself from the story. But it never dawned on me that kids would want to see it. I'm with you. Plus I don't go to the movies in my prude-y attire. I clean baby barf and baseball uniforms in it. So there.

    1. I'm glad to hear the whole point is that society is sick, but I think that point is well understood already...alas, while we have an insatiable appetite for gore and senseless stardom (i.e. until we stop opening our wallets for it), it will continue. I'm just surprised at this one with you know, the dead kids and everything.

      Also, I go to the movies in my reversible gym clothes. Or I would if they still fit. Which they might if I didn't eat buttered popcorn. Vicious circle.