If Corrupting My Child Is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right

We’re the parents who allowed our 12-year old daughter to watch two R-rated movies.

Is it my imagination, or have our phones stopped ringing for play dates? Because we’re the libertines leading our child down the inglorious path of foul-mouthed, fart-laden, flipping-the-bird juvenile delinquency?

Is this just our next foray into bad parenting?

We didn’t used to be those people. We were upstanding. Blameless. Our kids were only allowed to watch Little Bear and maybe Phineas and Ferb on our edgier days.

We were the parents who didn’t want our child having play dates at the house of the 10-year old whose parents let her watch Jaws.

What was wrong with those dunderheads? Didn’t they know that Jaws was far too scary for their baby? That she’d certainly be traumatized and have to move to Urumqi, China, which Yahoo Answers says is the furthest point on planet earth from an ocean?

Then one week ago it happened.

I walked into the living room at 1 a.m. to find two insomniacs, my husband Henry and 12-year old daughter Clare, watching Johnny Knoxville encased in rubbery wrinkles and a melanoma-speckled bald cap sharting in a diner booth in the film Bad Grandpa.

(I will leave it to the intrepid reader to purloin the meaning of the word “shart” in the Urban Dictionary)

“Isn’t that an R-rated movie?” I queried shrilly.

My husband explained our daughter was nervous about 7th grade starting and couldn’t sleep so he thought he’d “cheer her up” by allowing her to watch this hilarious (depending on your scatological tolerance level) film.

And not to worry, he was fast-forwarding through the strip club scene.

I judged him. Oh how I judged him, right up until the following night when I rented the R-rate Identity Thief on Netflix and realized I simply had to share the comic genius of the deliciously zany and zaftig Melissa McCarthy with my child.

bad parenting
Photo Credit: Universal Pictures.

How could I cheat her of even one more day not knowing the perfect hilarity of McCarthy singing, “My milkshake tastes better than yours” to Jason Bateman, the master of understatement, in a quintessential buddy movie?

Especially since my child would not understand that “milkshake” was something other than a tasty ice cream drink?

Yes, there was language in that film, to be sure. Enough F-bombs to flatten Normandy.

And I did have to fast-forward through Melissa’s bawdy romp between the sheets with the inimitable Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family fame.

But there was also a myriad of shared belly laughs, and the mutual memorization of classic lines of dialogue that have since been used to divert arguments between my daughter and me.

When she was mad I forgot to wash her softball uniform, I gazed at her lovingly and said, “This light is very flattering on your chin.”

When I was annoyed she didn’t pick up her room before bed, she cozied up to me and said, “Your beard smells like sandwiches. Nice.”

We just can’t stay mad at each other under these circumstances.

While I recognize that some parents will be scandalized by my permissiveness, I wouldn’t miss watching these films with my daughter when she’s at this in-between age.

At twelve-years old, I am the mommy she still wants to cuddle up with in front of the TV; our feet entangled, our hands scrabbling around to get the last burnt kernels out of a bowl previously filled with popcorn, and I’m also not her mommy, but simply another human being on this hurtling rock through time and space who shares her specific brand of humor.

It’s a fine-line I’m walking. Like Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. A fine line, mutherf#$kas!

I’m aware there are boundaries we cannot cross and that, for better or worse, I will always mostly be her mom, and less frequently her friend.

But I’ve learned that not all R-rated films are equal and that in watching these films with my daughter, we’re bonding and making memories.

Good ones that I hope she’ll have for the rest of her life or at least as long as the light falls flatteringly upon our chins.

How do you monitor what your child watches? Any hard and fast rules? Or do you handle things on a film-by-film basis?

10 thoughts on “If Corrupting My Child Is Wrong, I Don’t Wanna Be Right”

  1. from ages 1-10 were spent in the 70’s when horror movies were all the rage. You know; When Jamie Lee Curtis was known as the Scream Queen instead of Activis pusher. With that being said, my family would go see all these rated R movies at the drive in. I could watch killing, maiming, beheading and gore galore, but the moment a boob popped on screen – I had to duck down until she was killed (because the girls who give it up were always the 1st to die you know).

    Can my son watch an rated R movie? Probably not – I wouldn’t even let him watch Hunger Games – but then he is 8. When he is 12 and if he has the maturity to handle the particular topic -then probably. I look forward to the days when I get to see real movies instead of the oh so edgy pg13 ones!

    1. Kathy I think you and I were probably at a lot of the same drive-in theaters. I’ll never forget seeing “It’s Alive!” about a woman who gave birth to a monster that killed the delivery doctor and all the nurses. No wonder I had to take a running start and leap into my bed at night so no monsters would grab me! Man I miss the 70s!

  2. hahaha that movie was greatness. You reminded me of some of my favorite one-liners. As for us? We take it on a film by film basis. We are definitely the most liberal/lenient of our group of friends, but I figure they hear bad words from me more than they’ll ever hear in a movie. My sons are 7 and 10yo. They watch shark week, they’ve seen pg-13 movies, we watch SNL together, etc. I know they will see R movies WAY before the age of 18 (depending on the movie). I think they’re exposed to so much more on local Tv than we EVER were at their age; I just don’t see the point in pretending they don’t know what a curse word is, ya know?

    Carry on with yer bad self. 🙂

    1. Hey Beth — I can’t believe what’s on TV these days! My daughters discovered Friends when my mom was babysitting them in Paris and it was the only English speaking show on TV. I love that show with a passion, but had completely forgotten that it’s mostly about sex all the time. Sigh.

  3. I MOSTLY didn’t censor anything. I mean, no slasher movies in Kindergarten or anything, but I figured my kids were going to public school….they were getting exposed to a lot. I trusted them to understand the difference between fact and fiction and if they had questions about anything, we have no taboos in our house.

    THAT being said…letting my youngest watch Shaun Of The Dead when he was WAAAY too young was a mistake. The older kids ate up those kind of movies…it scared the crap out of my youngest.

    He’s 16 now and seems to have recovered. 🙂

    1. Hi Michelle – the poor younger siblings always bear the brunt of it. It’s so much harder to slow down their childhoods. My 10-year old already talks to me like she’s Oprah. She’s so much smarter than me it’s scary.

  4. If a movie is quality and something I thought they’d enjoy, the R didn’t matter. You might argue The Big Lebowski isn’t “quality,” but we sure enjoy quoting it. I can’t exactly recall what other R movies they saw in middle school, but I know my opinion of the movie was more important than the rating. There are intelligent R movies that I would prefer my kids would see over some stupid PG-13 movies. They are now 17 and 19 and are kind, thoughtful, intelligent boys.

    1. Hey Ky — I’m right there with you. I will admit the language gets to me a bit. I am quite friendly with the “F” word, which, when used correctly, can be the exact right word for the moment. But why the ubiquity? Use sparingly for best results filmmakers. Do you know I’ve never watched The Big Lebowski. I recognize this is a sin that must be rectified.

  5. My 13 year old son and I thoroughly enjoyed 22 Jump Street this summer, and South Park is his new favorite. Although that has to be censored occasionally. 🙂 Certain types of college humor have been totally bonding for us, while the sex and violence still need to be limited. I say rock on. You know what your kids can handle and what is too much. My son would love to see Tammy! We’ll see……..

    1. Angie I just can’t seem to resist Melissa McCarthy. She is just too damn funny, although I’ve held off on The Heat predominantly due to the knife that gets stuck in Sandra Bullock’s thigh. A bit too real for the kiddo.

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