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April 14, 2008

The Dark Side

KelceyDespite my husband's job and talent as a New York City news anchor, we don't watch the nightly news in our home. I do DVR the show. But I don't want my kids hearing about murders and rapes and other tales of life's evils - even if they don't exactly know what these things are yet.

Eventually they will. And that will be soon enough.

But shielding them from the dark side of life is challenging (unless you only expose them to Elmo). That guy never seems to veer into questionable territory.

A few weeks ago I took 3 1/2 year old Dylan and 16 month-old Summer to see a kids' show, "Pigs, Bears and Billy Goats Gruff," billed as an "inventive interpretation" of children's stories. Or maybe it should be called, "How to Make Your Toddler Cry in 10 Minutes." In all fairness, the show is intended for kids ages 4 and up. These actors are quite talented but no Splenda-coating of classic fairy tales here.

In "The Three Little Pigs," 2 of those unlucky piggies, along with the wolf, end up in the boiling cauldron. Only that smart pig with the bricks makes it out alive. Thank goodness. I was afraid they were going to off the whole piggie crew. My daughter was in tears but insisted on staying until the end.

Darkness abounds in literature as well. We read a Disney storybook at home with all the familiar tales. But my husband and I are always forced to ad lib alternate endings and plot twits in order to avoid exposing our children to excessive death and violence.

And even that Oscar winning, G rated "Ratatouille" took me by surprise. We popped in the DVD on a rainy afternoon and within minutes a computer animated lady was blasting a shotgun, in an attempt to kill the aspiring rat chef, Remy. I ejected the movie immediately. It may be humorous to adults or older kids but to a toddler, it's violence. I opted for showing a few of my favorite scenes from, "The Sound of Music." I've never once seen that sweet Julie Andrews pull out a gun.

I know of a 3 year-old who is allowed to watch "Jurassic Park." That movie scares me. I've seen toddlers boxing on Wii. It just makes me uncomfortable to watch a 2 1/2 year-old virtually beat the crap out of someone else.

Am I overprotective? I don't know. I do know that parenting is about following your gut instinct. As much as possible, I want to expose my young children to the beauty and joy in life. We often pass the World Trade Center site and I think, someday they will know what happened here. But not today. I know that death, violence and tragedy is knocking right outside their door. It's lurking out there and I'm just not in a hurry to let it in. Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.

Original NYC Moms Blog Post.

Kelcey Kintner is the creator and editor of the mama bird diaries, a smart, funny and always unpredictable take on motherhood.  She lives with her husband and two daughters in the West Village (aka home of the "Sex and the City" bus tour). Their dog has moved to the suburbs.

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