So here’s the deal. Declan has always been sensitive. And we have always been about withholding media for him, especially violent media. Sure, he would watch a bit of the Wiggles and Blue’s Clues since, well, forever. And to my ever living shame, it turned into a habit where he does it during breakfast – argh! But sometimes you do what works in the rhythm of your family.
I remember reading my mommy message boards and being appalled when one of them brought her 18 month old to see Spider-Man 2. The movie! The one with Doc Ock and his crazy metallic tentacles! What??
As I (and Declan) have grown older, I have realized that each kid has their own threshold for these things, but seriously? Eighteen months? At 18 months, you can’t even discuss what they are seeing and explain the why’s, how’s and the NOT REALS.
But in retrospect, I realize that we probably went a bit to far in the other direction. Oh, I know we were following Declan’s lead. When a 5 year old watches Curious George and bursts into tears every other minute, clearly they are not ready for the hard stuff.
As in: Star Wars.
Which is what all the kids love, and many of them have seen. Even the later ones (or “earlier” ones, depending on how you look at it).
But I know he can’t handle it, and I still have that anti-gun, anti-violence, anti-screentime voice niggling in my head.
So, we have talked about the movie, told him about the characters, purchased a few books, and when we got the Wii – the Lego Star Wars game. We hesitated letting him play the game, but after we checked it out, we realized there was less fighting and more puzzle-solving.
So we gave it a shot.
And he’s totally digging it. Not scared, not upset when someone gets lost, not worried over the consequences… it’s like the new ways video games are being used for curing phobias, where patients explore things in the virtual world to conquer their fears in the real world.
OK, a bit less dramatic than that, but you get my drift.
We make sure we have chats after we play. “What is real about the game?… What is not?… One thing that we don’t like about video games is they show that fighting as an answer to problems. How do we like to solve problems?”
And when he is ready (it will be a while), we’ll let him watch the first (fourth) Star Wars.
I realize this is a little backwards, and it will sure be interesting when he finally does see the movie and he knows all the characters and the plot before he sees it.
It sure seemed backwards to his friend Aidan, who is allowed to watch the first (last) three movies but not play video games. He was astounded when he found out that Declan *could* play the Star Wars game. I explained to them both that each family had their own way of doing things and their own pace, and what works for one may not work for the other.
But I *still* would never take my 18 month old to see Spider-Man 2.