We know we know our kids best.
We know that it’s not about their age or grade or size or what their peers are doing.
It’s about what we know they can or can’t handle.
But I can start second-guessing myself when I see shocked looks at what I allow.
My 4th grader is very familiar with the world of Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Maze Runner.
Harry Potter is what started his interest in reading and The Maze Runner is what clinched it.
I took him with me to a prescreening of one of the Hunger Games movies.
I do take into consideration movies’ ratings, suggested ages for books, and reading levels, but I can also pre-read or pre-screen and make my own judgment call based on my son.
His teacher told me last week that when the class was working on the word “permitted” as one of their vocabulary words, the students used my son as an example, as in “he is permitted to watch movies the rest of us aren’t.”
But it’s about the individual child.
He’s a deep thinker. We have conversations about the themes of these books and the what ifs and the parallels to “real life.”
He knows there might be language in some of these books or movies that he is not to repeat and actions that shouldn’t be imitated.
His younger brothers are actually past the ages he was when certain books and movies were introduced to my oldest… but they couldn’t handle it. They wouldn’t get that it’s just a story or think about the deeper meanings. Some of it would seem too scary and they wouldn’t get it.
They cried at Big Hero 6 when they thought Baymax died and still couldn’t quite get over how he was sort of saved and because of this, they have no desire to watch it again. Those aren’t kids who can handle watching Dobby the house elf die, who wouldn’t be terrified by the battle at the cornucopia, and the idea of being one of the gladers and coming up in the elevator would seem absolutely terrifying. So, they don’t watch the movies and they won’t read the books for quite a long time.
Just like my oldest won’t be allowed to watch horror movies for many, many years. Dystopian societies and magical words are his happy place, but a scary story that takes places in this work, uh-uh, no way. He’d have nightmares for months (full disclosure: I probably would too- I still don’t watch them). Just because I permit some things doesn’t mean I permit everything.
I don’t think that every fourth grader should read the stories my son does. But it’s what my son loves. And as his mom, I know him best.