After my first son was born I tried so hard to do everything right. I fed him only organic vegetables that I had steamed and pureed myself, I nursed him until I was 3-months-pregnant with my second child, and I was adamant that he didn’t watch television.
Everything changed when we moved to Los Angeles. My youngest was a month-old and we were living in a two bedroom apartment on a noisy stretch of Wilshire. We switched from healthy organic food to takeout and after a few rainy days cramped in the apartment with the new baby and a toddler, the television went on. And it hasn’t been turned off since.
Until recently, I only let the boys watch educational shows like Little Einsteins and Go Diego Go. I didn’t feel good about it, but I felt it was better than Sponge Bob. And then the original Star Wars came on TV. I have to preface this by saying I am a huge Star Wars fan. I was 5 when the original came out and I was obsessed with it. I knew the boys would love it too, but mostly I wanted to watch it again. I wanted to see Harrison Ford when he was young and beautiful and hear the clever banter between Han Solo and Princess Leia, and of course I wanted to see the Death Star blown to pieces.
As I suspected, the boys were enthralled. My older son was Luke Skywalker for Halloween and he talks nonstop about Star Wars. What I didn’t anticipate were the endless questions that would come from watching it and the two sequels. “Is Ben Kenobi dead? Where is Tatooine? Who is the guy with the awesome backpack?” (Sort of, in a galaxy far, far away, Boba Fett.)
The movies seemed so kitschy to me that I blocked out the violence and adult themes. I thought that since it looked like the blasters shot light they weren’t really guns. When my younger boy started making his Leggos into a blaster and making shooting noises, I knew I’d opened a door I couldn’t back out of. My oldest’s discussion of death threw me, too. About the time he realized that Obi Wan Kenobi had really died was when my uncle passed away. We had a short discussion about why Nana was coming to town and why everyone was so sad. I’m not ready for the death talk and I don’t think the boys are either.
I wish I’d thought it through before I let them watch the movies. They’re not traumatized, but their little fantasy world is no longer just rescue packs and rocket ships; it’s filled with evil emperors, bounty hunters and spaceship-eating dinosaurs that live underground.
I’m going to try to be better about what they watch, but it’s not going to be easy. The Clone Wars is on sale at Best Buy and the boys know all about it from preschool. Maybe it’s time to turn off the TV.