This post brought to you by yet another Saturday Movie Night with my eldest. I’m so cultured you see, that I find meaning even in trivial movies from the 80s. You’re lucky I was too crazed to write a Truth Tuesday after I watched The Karate Kid. I’m sure the title would have been, “Wax On, Wax Off.” Or something original.
Anyway. This past Saturday, we watched Home Alone. And it was amazing. I had kinda written that movie off like a decade ago, I think just from the sheer volume of viewing-parties I had had as a kid. But, the revisit was well worth it and I could be found sitting in my bed with my eldest eating marshmallows and writing John Hughes love letters he’ll never get with lots of millenium cinema critique.
Ok, anyway, I had a take away from the movie regarding the following: We are an overprotective generation.
Now, before you go thinking I’m suggesting this in regards to the plot and to the notion that leaving your 8 year old alone in your house while you go to Paris is an ok right of passage, I’m not about to say that. This has nothing to do with the plot, which is extreme - and SUPPOSED to be extreme. It has to do with our regard for the sensitivities and the “rights” and “wrongs” for kids. It has to do with our ability - or lack of ability - to let them experience the world, our world, without filter and without giant massive gauze bandages wrapped around their senses.
Sure, the world has maybe possibly gotten scarier. Sure, we know better than our parents did. But, it’s possible that we’re a bit overprotective, right? Just consider that for a second, without judgment and without our normal defense modes. (you're not doing anything wrong)
While you’re considering that without reaction, what was it about Home Alone that brought this up if not for the plot? Well, in the first ten minutes there were an assortment of put downs that nowadays would have been labeled NC17 (gasp). There was violence and movies with gangsters (horrors). And there was an off-kilter sense of humor that appreciated the absurdity of being a kid, that handed them the permission to laugh at serious stuff and stuff that we might think would hurt their feelings or permanently damage them these days (say it isn't so!). Overall, it was just the handling of childhood that was so clearly different than movies these days. Now, we have plastic characters with overwrought moral lessons and constant activity and way too predictable plots and stereotyped personalities and diluted, mainstream “sassy” humor. And this has happened because we value the “safety” of the programming over the actual creative medium, which - in my humble opinion - is a serious affront to the vast and untapped world of knowing and understanding in children.
Why has this happened?! What in the world?! I’m not a crazy helicopter parent! I’ll scream that forever, YET, is it possible that I’m being blind to the fact that I am, maybe a little?
I think when we peel the layers back, we can give ourselves a wee bit of compassion. Media has changed dramatically - we know so much more than we used to, which is both good and bad. But, we’re getting constantly fed scary news headlines and then we top that off by watching super scary CSI detective shows where kids are always kidnapped and women always murdered by jealous exes. And then there’s all the pollution and the food allergies and the diseases and the chemicals. And then - THEN - we have the fact that our generation grew up with the terror that started with Columbine and continues incessantly today, the roots of which the media traces back to kids watching violent video games, not being adequately parented, being mentally ill, and being bullied.
Terror. We are completely fucking scared. And we’re afraid to acknowledge, claim, and express our emotions. And we are scared when it comes to our kids experiencing the world and expressing themselves emotionally, because we’re both ignorant and way too informed. But, it’s understandable. And there’s a solution.
Turn off the tv. Read real news from vetted sources, not always of your own persuasion. Read fiction. Stop self-help craziness. Stop reading about food dye and the uncontrollable environmental dangers all around you and read instead about to boost your body’s ability to live through these dangers. Educate yourself to the point of exhaustion. Be critical of the media and the influx of info according to your sensibilities. Meditate. Watch old movies. Provide security for your kids to experience unleashed the world from a solid foundation of home. Be present with your kids so they feel connected. Bring our kids into your adult world more and don’t filter it. Give yourself a break. Laugh at yourself. Trust in your kids, until proven otherwise. Oh, and the most important:
Sharon Salzberg, an amazing meditation teacher you all will be googling momentarily, says that any sort of halfway enlightened person she knows has one thing they’ve managed to do: Strengthen their Letting Go Muscle. No, not the Frozen Soundtrack muscle.
(are you doing it? I am ... by ending this here post without a conclusion and by taking a deep breath with you instead)