Last night I got just a little worked up. It doesn't happen as often as it used to. And perhaps, it doesn't happen as often as it should.
When I was in high school, into college and even when Stan and I were first married and he was in the army I used to get worked up about all the real and perceived injustices. A couple of examples...random locker checks in high school. Oh, HELL NO, I remember thinking to myself, and probably saying out loud. That would be a gross violation of unlawful search and seizure. Or in college, while studying journalism under one particular professor, being forced to take out any and all references referring to my dad's military background. What the hell, I thought? This is supposed to be a major where we are supposed to protect freedom of speech and I am being forced to take that part out of my writing? WOW! And then on into early married life when I became a "dependent" according to the military...OH, HELL NO, I am NOT a dependent, I remember vehemently stating to a poor, little private who was just trying to do his job. But the fires were lit and I couldn't, or wouldn't, back down.
In the intervening years the fire that lights behind my eyes when I feel something passionately has been tempered. For the most part, I don't get overly involved in political discussions. I steer clear of religious issues.I don't want to talk about my views on abortion. I would rather stay in neutral.
Until last night...
As soon as the statement "It's just disgusting there's a movie out there that glorifies kids killing each other" crossed my mother's lips I felt the tip of the match touch the strike plate on the matchbox. When she went on to tell me how she thought the movie "The Hunger Games" was horrendous and awful and vile and disgusting, the match went from resting on the strike plate to flying across it, igniting behind my eyes and I knew. I knew it was time to get just a little fiery.
My mother has not read the book "The Hunger Games" nor has she seen the movie. She has no idea, none whatsoever, what it's about except for what she has been told or heard about on TV. So I got a little worked up.
I went on to tell my mother why she was dead wrong about the movie and the book, as Stan said "Well, I'm just gonna head outside.' He left kitchen as fast as he could. (He doesn't like being around fiery me.) I've seen the movie with Claire and I went on to read the book so I could understand it better. I know what it's about and it's not about glorifying kids killing each other.
My mom went on to tell me how she learned what little she knew about the book...talk TV and hearing other's discussions about it. And I have to say that made me kind of mad...to judge something on what others tell you about it. Her statements reeked of censorship and intolerance. Two things I am not good at ignoring.
Claire and I went on to explain the real meaning of the book, as we saw it. I told my mother I saw it as very Hilter-esque ~ a society so controlled and a fearful of its leaders. As I was explaining that point I looked Claire and saw her nodding her head, vigorously, in agreement. Claire made several of her own points about the book and the movie; talking about the character's feelings, fears and what motivated them.
My mother did make one good point during our heated discussion. She said that kids should not be left to read this on their own. And she is right. It's a topic that deserves discussion. I'm more than glad I went to the movie with Claire and I'm even more glad I read the book so I can discuss it with Claire.
I think it's vitally important to be "in the know" when it comes to what is popular for our kids. I read all seven "Harry Potters" so I could be prepared when the kids read them (they never did and I have to confess that I not only liked them, I loved them...so this one is more than a little selfish) I listen to their music so I know what's going on in their world of music. In doing that I've learned to understand why it is that Zach has tremendous respect for Eminem. I get it. I want to make sure I understand their world just a little so I can help them navigate a little better. I don't want to censor it or be intolerant of their world ~ I want to understand it.
Remember in high school when we were all assigned books that could be considered just a little outside of the realm of "normal" and could have easily ended up tossed aside, aka censored? "Animal Farm," "Tess of the d'Urbervilles" and "Fahrenheit 451" are just three examples of books I read in high school and I think about the censorship that could have happened with those three books. They are books that make you stop and think. They are thought provoking and discussion igniting books. So for me, it's important too, to not only stay up on pop culture with the kids but also what they are reading in school. There are time I've read (or re-read) the books their English teachers assign, just so I know what's going on and can help them if there's a question, a concern or and idea that needs to be fleshed out. I've read "The Count of Monte Cristo," "Great Expectations," and "The Red Badge of Courage," right along with them so we can discuss, knowledgeably. I don't want the kids to ever have to worry about books being censored by me or school. I want them to feel free to explore knowledge.
I need my kiddos to understand that censoring anything without knowledge is never a good thing. I want them to see that it's OK to get a little fiery every now and again. I want them to want to stand up against intolerance and censorship. I'm glad Claire was here to help explain to my mom that it's not a good idea to judge a book by its cover. I'm glad my fiery-ness made an appearance last night. It means it's still there and ready to come out when needed.
Oh, for the love of my children...