Last week, I borrowed Fly Away Home from the library to watch with D. I winced when I realized within the first few minutes of the movie that they were about to kill off the mother, but it was done subtly enough that I think it went straight over D’s head. He loved the movie, and is going around saying that he’s going to ask for it for his sixth birthday (which is only 11 1/2 months away).
We finished our reading of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe over the weekend. Prompted by Jody’s lovely description of reading scary stories to an empty room, with her kids peaking around the doorway, it occurred to me that I probably shouldn’t send D to bed having just read the chapter in which Aslan is killed. So we read two chapters that night, moving right from the death to the rebirth, with hardly a chance to think in between.
Sunday night we watched March of the Penguins. Some of you are probably seeing the problem coming, but I was totally blindsided. I wasn’t sure D would have the patience to sit through the whole thing, but he did. And then some of the eggs were dropped and froze. And some of the adult penguins were eaten by the leopard seals. And when the big blizzard hit just after the eggs hatched, and some of the penguins chicks froze to death, he looked at the pictures of the pathetic little bodies and asked if they were going to come back to life. And we said no, in this world people and animals don’t come back to life when they’re dead. And he burst into tears.
We stopped the movie and held him, and agreed that yes, it is sad, and yes, it’s ok to cry, and no, we don’t know why everything has to die. And after a bit he calmed down and blew his nose, and we watched the rest of the movie.
Of all the things I want for my children, I think I most want them to develop empathy, to be people who pay attention to how things affect others, to be mensches. But I don’t want them to be what a friend calls "skinless," totally exposed to the harshness and craziness of the world.