If you spend any amount of time with us, you will likely hear one of the following three things:
1. "Mommy, a diver is gonna take me!! Can you save me from the diver?"
2. "T REX!!! Mommy, hold me before the T Rex comes!"
3. "That bear is so angry, because he has red eyes. Will you save me from that angry bear?"
Choice 1 My children have the typical childhood fears. Dinosaurs, divers and bears. They are also not big fans of blimps, poachers, boa constrictors and french speaking cats. This is because my children watch movies. Mostly Disney cartoons but we recently ventured into the world of 1960's classics like Swiss Family Robinson (hence the boa constrictor fear). I like movies and I like that my children like them. I actually think they are great tools for teaching patience, interaction with different ideas and exposure to marvelous character traits. Have you ever REALLY watched a Disney movie with your babes and noticed how much good stuff there is to talk about?
For better or worse, Pursy put together that Nemo disobeyed his father and a diver took him away. I debated how much to encourage that extreme idea, but she isn't wrong in her assessment. That's what happened and she knows it wasn't cool. She taught herself that bad things can happen if she doesn't listen and that Mama and Daddy's job is to keep her safe. She also learned that Daddies will fight sharks to find their babies, just like Marlin did. This is good stuff. Media is a great parenting tool if you are willing to engage with your babes. I am very pro-television and very anti-guilt about the fact that I am pro-television.
Choice 2 I also like that when watching movies both babes come running to me when scary things come. I dive onto the couch and they pile on top of me while the T Rex chases Littlefoot and Sarah across the cartoon Jurassic landscape. They don't cover their eyes or hide in the other room. They come get me and I protect them. When I am with them, they aren't afraid of the bear with the red eyes or the big blimp on UP. In their mind, Mama is stronger then a tiger or a snake and is certainly unafraid of the diver with the yellow mask and flippers.
I know this won't last forever. They will lose their fear of cartoon animals and recognize that things on the TV screen can't hurt them. But right now, I am their champion. Their safe place. It is also fantastic to go down the rabbit hole of imaginative play where Pursy and I very seriously discuss whether a karate kick would be better than a water balloon if we came across a tiger. She has thoughts about this and "logic" to back it up.
Choice 3 As a parent who is deeply committed to culture and actually wants my children to experience and wrestle with the world around them, my job is terrifying some days. It would be much easier to form my own Swiss Family Robinson on some deserted island and control every outside influence. I could get rid of the television or just continue to let Pursy believe that Yo Gabba Gabba is the only show that exists. (we don't have cable and Gabba is on Netflix) Right now the lessons she is learning have been good- I can't count the number of times Toodee has been referenced during our talks about why we should always tell the truth. And Muno wasn't careful when he was throwing things and hit Plex on the head with a snowball (a bigger deal then it sounds...Plex is a robot and didn't deal well with snow) I don't count on DJ Lance Rock to teach my children all they need to know about morality, but when teaching complex ideas like honesty and sensitivity to a three year old, I will take all the assistance I can.
But I think I often underestimate the lessons we are teaching Pursy and Knox just by the way we live. We are comfortable with the reality that we screw up on a regular basis (we often joke that if anyone ever called us the Perfect Family we would know we were doing something wrong..) but Grant and I have discussed at length what it means to have a family worldview that governs all the decisions we make. From how we eat, to where we play (Grant refuses to cross bridges out of the city to go to a park), to how we speak to each other, to where we go to church, to family dinners, to regular date nights without the babes, to how often I work, etc. We decided before Pursy and Knox ever came along what was important to us as a family. That has evolved over the years but the basic tenets are the same. We love God, we love each other and we love the world around us.
Every once in a while, we get a small glimpse of how we are doing as parents. A tiny report card, as it were. About a week ago Pursy began praying this prayer before every meal.
"Oh gracious God, help us keep us safe. Thank you for this um...breakfast (or whatever meal we are sitting in front of). Thank you for Mommy and Daddy and Pursy and Knox. Thank you for the world and everyone in the world. Amen."
The grace of God is bigger than all our parenting mistakes. Our children are learning what we want so much to teach them. God is important. Family is important. The world and the people in the world are important. Enough to thank God for three times a day.
|Oh, that face.|
|Pursy' New Bike|
|The "Perfect" Family|