I don’t know if I’ve said this around here before, but I’m a bit overprotective when it comes to my kids. Particularly when it comes to my kids and gratuitous violence.
My son never watched Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles when he was 3. I have never bought him a toy gun, or sword, or plastic knives. If we’re watching something on TV with him in the room and guns start blazing, it goes off. Immediately.
I don’t want him desensitized to violence. And pain. And retaliation. I also don’t want him leaping off the couch to karate chop guests. But mainly, I don’t want him to think that hitting, hurting, shooting, kicking, putting your hands on another person in ANY way is OK. Or, worse, no big deal.
So, it is in direct contradiction to every thing I have preached to myself as a parent that I let him watch The Passion on Good Friday. The one by Mel Gibson? The one with all the blood and guts and “gore”?
Yeah. That one.
I didn’t make the decision lightly. My son is only seven. And I could give you a million and one reasons why people will say I am insane and a hypocrite and Oh My God What The Hell Are You Crazy People Doing NOW In The Name Of Christianity!!?!?
But I also know that I’ve always felt a connection between my son and God. It’s as if he was born with this need to know – to really know. I know that as I watched him go through the Stations of The Cross last week during CCD, he poured himself into the booklet and soaked up every word, eager to know more.
And I also know that next year he is going to be expected to receive his First Communion. Having taught that class for two years now, I know that for many kids at that age it’s hard to really make the leap – Bread, Wine, Body, Blood, Sacrifice, Suffering…
We try. We relate scourging and taunting to spitting and bullying on the playground. We describe nails in a hand the best we can. We talk about unconditional love – more love than even your mommy and your daddy could have…
But when I watched that movie for the first time last year, at 26 years old, it clicked.
And I cried. And I flinched. And I ached to comfort Mary as she watched her son, her baby, be tortured and mocked – so close and yet unable to help. And I wanted to shout “Stop! It’s not FAIR!! It’s not HIM!!! Take ME, take ME!” And I felt ashamed when I realized there was no freaking WAY it could have bee me – that never in a million years could I have endured that, justified or not.
And then, only then, did it really click just how much was given for me. And the depths of love that must have made that possible. And the level of gratitude and appreciation and humility and all at the same time worthiness that washes over you…
I wanted that for my son. I wanted him to hear the story of Good Friday and know, the best his little seven year old soul could know.
And so I sat with him. I answered his questions. I didn’t stop him when he left the room when it came to the nailing. And I answered more of his questions. And I watched the awe on his face as he realized – without a word from me – what had been done for him.
And now here I sit. Unable to defend to my friend why in the hell I would let my young son watch a movie that has been called “violent” and “graphic”. Fully aware of all the reasons why NOT to. Cognizant of all the ways in which this collides head first with the smaller extremes of not letting him watch “violent cartoons”.
And yet I know it was right. I know it. For one of the very few times in my life, I cannot explain or argue or outline or debate it… and still I can know that it was right.
My comments are open. Feel free to blast me for letting him watch it. Feel free to haze me for the “ridiculous” measures I’ve put in place before.
Discuss. Feel. Free.