When I was growing up, my parents didn't care what "everyone else" was watching. They made decisions about what I could watch (movies and TV) and made it clear that there were reasons behind those decisions. For instance, I remember in either fifth or sixth grade, a classmate had a slumber party. Excitement built as she informed us that we would be watching Desperately Seeking Susan. Then my world shattered when my mom told me I couldn't watch the movie. (Hey, I was in elementary school. It seemed like a devastating thing at the time). She called the host's mom and after a long discussion, the mom agreed to switch movies. I think we ended up watching Hairspray (the original version). I remember my mom explaining to me that Desperately Seeking Susan just wasn't appropriate for elementary school kids and, quite frankly, there wasn't really room for me to argue. Every now and then the movie is on cable. I still have not been able to bring myself to watch it. Here I am my 30's and I'm afraid I might get grounded for watching it!
Now it's my turn to police what my children watch. I don't want you to think we're glued to the TV. We're not. We do get out. We spend time at parks. We go to the library. There are days the TV is never on. But there are days it is on... and that's where it becomes my job to figure out what they can and cannot watch. My biggest "no" is Sponge Bob Square Pants. I will be honest here. I have never sat through an episode of this show. It appears to be ridiculous and that's enough for me. Plus, I'm just not keen on a character whose butt crack is always showing. My girls know they're not allowed to watch it and will even tell me if it's coming on next. At a birthday party a few months ago they were concerned they wouldn't be allowed to have cake because it was a Sponge Bob cake. I explained to them that while I think it's a silly show, they can certainly enjoy a Sponge Bob party... and I've even told them if they watch an episode here and there I'm not going to be upset. (For all you Sponge Bob lovers who are getting ready to leave me comments about why he's so great, just consider this... do your kids watch Yo Gabba Gabba? I can't tell you the number of parents I've met who think YGG is creepy but looooove the sponge who lives under the sea).
A week ago, grandma brought over the movie Matilda. As politely as possible, I explained to her that my girls aren't ready for this movie... and it's not just because I can't stand Mara Wilson. (Seriously, child actors who try to be to cutesy by lisping in movies, such as her role in Mrs. Doubtfire, are near the top of my list of pet peeves.) While I haven't seen the entire movie, I've seen bits and pieces of it, and it just seemed too dark for five-year-olds. I know what frightens my girls and I think this movie would disturb them.
Eventually, I won't have as much control over what they watch. They'll go to friend's houses and do as they please. But who knows... when they're adults they may see an episode of Sponge Bob on TV and, like my Desperately Seeking Susan moments, remember that Mommy said "no."
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