A week or so ago, my daughter walked up to my wife and asked her something that brought tears to my eyes. It was a question of such profound insight into the influence that I’ve had on her, that I couldn’t have been any prouder.
She asked, “Mom, when is Star Wars Day?”
Yes, Star Wars Day (May the 4th for those non-nerds reading this).
One of the biggest joys that I have about being a father, is starting to share the things that I love with my kids. But the most difficult thing I face when doing so is deciding when things, like movies, TV shows, or even some music, are really age appropriate for my kids. When I was on the college debate team, we performed a Readers’ Theatre about children’s programming, and I’ve tried to make sure that she was exposed to the children’s shows that I enjoyed growing up. Sesame Street, Mr Rogers (and subsuquently Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood), Fraggle Rock and others.
I’m not one to shelter my child, but there are things that I definitely don’t want her seeing or saying. For example, I don’t want her to pick up on fighting, violence, sexual content/innuendo or the likes. Also, I’m pretty certain that her daycare would throw her out if she picked up adult language. And it was bad enough when she came home one afternoon saying “What the Heck??”
But how do I know when it’s right to share the things I really enjoy? The things that I want to watch today, not just what I liked as a kid.
I love that she’s getting introduced to my fellow geek culture, and embracing a lot of the messages that it’s ok to be exactly what you want, and incredibly smart. At three, Maddy’s favorite show is already The Big Bang Theory. But even as a “family hour” show, there are times where I either have to skip forward in an episode, or stop playback so she doesn’t see or hear certain content.
I desperately want to share things like Star Wars, Blazing Saddles, The Sandlot, Rat Race and other movies and TV shows that hold a special place in my life. But the struggle I have is when can I be sure that everything will resonate just as loudly with her, without causing “harm.”
In the mean time, I suppose a few ewoks and an R2D2 will be OK. I might just want to avoid Episode 1 and Jar Jar Binks – he’s just creepy.