The Jungle Book is on Netflix right now. You know, the newer, live action, version? It’s a big deal because I don’t know if I should let my six year old see it or not. The nine year old’s already seen it (and she can’t decide if she ever wants to see it again or not). In her words it is “bloody and scary and would be far too scary for Gigi”.
Do any of you have kids in Scouts? The entire way the kids are organized into packs, the names they adopt for the group leaders, they are all taken from Kipling’s Jungle Books. (Apparently Robert Baden-Powell was friends with Rudyard Kipling, and asked him for permission to use his Jungle Book setting as a framework for the junior levels of Scouts.)
So of course when Disney released the live action Jungle Book I wasn’t shocked when my daughter’s scouting group announced that they would be going on a field trip to watch the movie at a local theatre.
I prepped by having Grace read The Jungle Books. She’s a well read kid, but The Jungle Books was tough going for her. Kipling’s India of the 1800s was just too far removed from anything she had seen or experienced. Still, I felt like she got the gist of most of the stories. And she told me she loved Rikki-Tikki-Tavi, which has always been my favourite of the lot. So I called it a success.
She went with her Scout troop and saw the film. And she said she enjoyed it, but it also made her scared, and uncomfortable, and she didn’t like that there was blood. I felt sort of guilty and wondered if I should have sent her to see it or not.
Grace will be 10 this summer, and she is only beginning to be comfortable watching Rated G movies, let alone rated those PG or higher. For the longest time she had no interest in movies, at all. She didn’t want to watch anything with any narrative tension.
I remember when she was just a bit shy of five years old I did a review for a Wild Kratts DVD, and she didn’t like it at all. My kids are Zoboomafoo fans, so a new series starring the Kratt Brothers seemed like a sure fire hit. She liked the animals, she liked the cool gadgets, but she hated the bad guys and the worry that things might not turn out.
And that’s what it’s always been like with her. When she was five and six and seven years old she disliked the Disney movies I tried to show her. Brave was one of the first films I brought her to a theatre to see. She hated it. Lilo and Stitch reduced her to a snivelling pile of tears. And let’s not even get started on The Fox and the Hound.
I didn’t matter if I was sitting right next to her, assuring her that everything would be fine, and there would be a happy ending… the kid couldn’t handle dramatic conflict. After seeing Brave she asked me to please never make her watch a movie again, ever. And I didn’t push it. If my six year old only wanted to watch Blue’s Clues and Bob the Builder who was I to complain. At least it made things easy when it came to sharing screen time with her younger sister.
Gradually, things changed. She would be browsing through the Netflix kids menu and see a movie that would catch her eye and she would ask to watch it. But she would still want me there, by her side, offering assurances that “everything will work out okay in the end”. She still bawls, and I mean bawls, at the slightest sappy thing in a movie, but now she will say, “These are my happy tears.” or “It’s ok mom, I know it’s just pretend.”
Gigi has always been different. Maybe it’s younger sibling syndrome. But she’s always been ready to watch ANYthing we would let her. I have to be more careful with her, because she won’t self censor. She won’t complain and say this movie is too scary or too sad. She will sit there smiling, watch the whole thing, say “Thank you for letting me watch that.”, and then have nightmares a week later.
So I’m on the fence about letting her watch The Jungle Book, a film that her sensitive older sister rated as “too, too scary”. I think what I’ll probably do is sit and watch it by myself so I can make a more informed choice. I wonder if Grace will come around to wanting to see it a second time?
It’s funny, but for some reason Grace has always been more open to stories with conflict when it’s episodic, vs. a movie. And I’m glad, in a selfish way, because I’ve been enjoying watch some of the “less kiddie” TV series with her. Both of the girls are in this odd between space where they still like to watch the occasional episode of Bob the Builder or Rescue Bots, but also like some shows designed for older kids, like Troll Hunters (If you haven’t seem Troll Hunters yet it is SO worth a look.) or Voltron (I’ve already told you about my love for all things Voltron. There was much rejoicing in this house when Season 2 hit Netflix this month. Woot!).
The other show I am currently on the fence about is the new Netflix exclusive Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. It’s a show I’ve eagerly been awaiting the release of, but I’m not sure if my daughters are ready for that level of black humour or not. I showed a few trailers to Gracie and she’s tentatively interested. I think she will probably like the series, if she goes in with the right mindset. I’ve been thinking of hitting the local library and seeing if we couldn’t find her a few of the books to read first. I have more reservations of showing it to my six year old evil mastermind, who I worry may have trouble deciphering the fine line separating comedic violence and destruction from the real thing.
In the end, I think what it boils down to is… every kid is different. And as parents it’s our job to try and listen to what they are saying, or to interrupt the more subtle signals they are giving off, so that we help them to find the right level of programming for them.
What about you folks? How do you decide when your kids are ready for more complex entertainment?
|Disclosure: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam. As such, they ask that I write about what’s currently streaming on Netflix. My words, my opinions, the shows I like and the shows I chose to share with my kids? That’s all my own.|