One thing I’ve been thinking (idly) about lately is that perhaps we push pop culture on our kids too early. I’m not talking about things like sex and violence – that’s a whole other topic – but I’m talking about showing things to kids that you love, that you’re excited to share, but they just aren’t mature enough to really follow what is going on.
I’m a huge, huge pop culture junkie and when I’m not blogging or working I’m probably watching movies, or TV shows, or reading books, or reading magazines about movies/TV/books, or talking to my friends online about OMG JENNIFER LAWRENCE SQUEE. I admit I was counting down the days until I could show my oldest Star Wars and I have tried, oh how I have tried, to get him to love Star Trek and The Princess Bride. IT WILL HAPPEN, DAMMIT.
But something interesting has happened a few times lately – while Little Miss Sunshine, age 8, has been watching something age-appropriate – the older two have LOVED IT. I know they enjoyed it when they watched it when they were 8. But now it’s like they really APPRECIATE what is happening on a whole new level. They GET the in-jokes. They fully understand all plot twists. It’s interesting to me.
And this applies for even younger stuff. My three-year-old nephew was visiting at Thanksgiving and introduced the girls to Paw Patrol, which is apparently very hot right now among the toddler crowd given the volume of Paw Patrol toys I see in all the newly-arrived Christmas catalogues and flyers. It’s an animated show about a team of puppies who, in 10 minute shorts, solve problems and do heroic acts to help kids. And the girls have been eating it up – they talk all the time now about Paw Patrol, which is their favourite, what’s their favourite episode, can they PLEASE PLEASE watch Paw Patrol if they do all their homework first. And although he’d probably die if he knew I was putting this on my blog – even the Captain will sit and laugh and enjoy it. He knows all the names of the puppies, y’all. They are INTO IT.
A few months back we were watching a Winnie the Pooh movie that the older two had seen a dozen times in their youth, but the Little Miss hadn’t seen, and she liked it fine, but the older two – BUSTING A GUT. It was the most I’d heard them laugh at a movie in ages. It was so cool.
So now the older two, because they are interested and curious and gently peer pressured, want to watch things like The Big Bang Theory and Survivor and Glee, and we let them, and we talk about them, and that’s good. But it’s also good to go back to the stuff that is “meant” for little kids and show them that good entertainment is ageless. I think it’s sweet and adorable that they still think In The Night Garden is totes awesome (and I guess a phase is coming soon in which “kid stuff” like that will be SO NOT COOL, MOM, so I better appreciate it now).
I read an article in the summer about how Steven Spielberg was super excited to share his movies with his grandson, and so finally got the kids’ parents’ permission to show him E.T. when he was three. Putting aside any potential scary stuff, I have to wonder: did the kid even understand what was happening? Did he get the subtleties of sibling interaction, of being an outsider, of how a boy and an alien can become linked in some way that’s beyond the typical daily life? I’m not saying he shouldn’t have shown him the movie, but I do hope he plans to show it to him again when he’s 10, and then maybe again when he’s 15, and then again when he’s 30 – so he can actually feel all the wonder and joy and fear and sadness. So he can come away with something learned, something gained.
So that it’s more than just pop culture education – it’s a true experience. Something to enjoy, to ponder, to remember.