Media

Yes, we’ve allowed our 13yr old to watch rated-R movies and adult television shows for years, and here’s why.

I’m angry. Why?! BECAUSE OUR KIDS ARE GETTING HURT AND ARE DYING! They’re killing themselves, killing each other, getting pregnant, getting raped and overdosing on drugs and alcohol! Sheltering them from the bad, instead of showing it, and it’s consequences, will not save them.

After hearing about a bill in the Virginia Senate earlier this week, I decided to explain why we let B watch some rated-R movies. I’ve received looks and comments from parents who disagree, disapprove, or were just plain shocked into silence, but the horrified look on their face told me exactly how they felt. I get it. There are plenty of things other parents allow/disallow their children to do that I don’t agree with and you have a right to disagree with me, as well. However, we feel we have damn good reasons. And since I don’t feel the need to get into a debate, nor defend myself, to the person who just stares in horror at me, I do have a platform right here.

First, let’s start with what inspired me to write this post. There is a bill, already passed by the Virginia State Senate and now waiting to be voted upon in the House, requiring “…K-to-12 teachers to notify parents of classroom materials with “sexually explicit content.” Parents could then “opt out” their children and request that the teacher provide an alternative assignment.” You can read the details, and find out how this bill came to be, in this Washington Post article. That got me thinking, again, about how some parents disapprove that the hubs and I do not shelter our son and sensor what he’s exposed to as much as they do. Then I found out this week that the 14 yr old daughter of an acquaintance killed herself and a 17 yr old OD’d on heroin.

If our children are blessed to live long, healthy lives, we will only have them under our roof and under our influence for the first quarter of that time. Our job is to ensure our son has the education and tools to take care of and protect himself when he leaves home. One of my personal goals has always been to make sure B won’t become a college freshmen brain-damaged or dead from alcohol poisoning. My son will know his mother was raped, will know all the different  scenarios of rape and will be taught to intervene on behalf of ladies who are not giving, or cannot give, consent.  The storytelling in movies can be great tools for learning about life. If we waited until B was the legal age to watch rated-R movies, 17, we’d have less a year to utilize these particular tools.

We’d be fooling ourselves if we thought that by not allowing B to watch or read certain things, and only letting him visit the homes of friends who aren’t allow to watch or read certain things, that he would never be exposed to them. He’s bombarded by them all the time, in (phone/computer) and out (friends and strangers) of our house. I don’t want other kids “educating” our son based on something they saw, overhead, misinterpreted or made up to impress their friends.

Here’s a scenario that won’t happen in our home. B is forbidden to watch rated-R movies. While hanging with a friend, the friend tells B that last Saturday he couldn’t sleep, snuck down to the basement TV and watched a late-night, “soft-porn” show on cable. Or maybe this friend was searching the web for something harmless and a typo led him to something completely inappropriate and he told be, in detail, what he saw. Something that the friend described was confusing to B or he didn’t understand what a word meant, but he doesn’t want to look stupid to his friend, so he doesn’t ask questions. But he has questions. If he’s forbidden to see such things, and the friend hasn’t told his parents what he saw for a reason, what’s the likelihood that B’s going to come home and feel safe bringing his concerns to us? He doesn’t want to get in trouble. He doesn’t want me to tell his friend’s parents and get him in trouble, either. And he probably believes he’d get the standard answer of, “That’s not an appropriate discussion to have at your age.”

We talk, we discuss, we share real-life examples from our own experiences, we read biographies and we show him with TV and movies.

Movies are rated-R for several different reasons. Language – I’m a cusser. B has been raised hearing cuss words so they have no shock-and-awe value to him. I don’t take the Lord’s name in vain and neither does my son. But kids he hangs out with cuss. Kids your kid hangs out with cuss. And your and my kids cuss when they are not around us. My son knows what cuss and slang words mean and their context. He knows which ones are degrading and insults and are not to be used in joking conversations with friends nor talking about others. Now, do I wish my son didn’t cuss at all? Sure. But you need to know that your child is hearing and using bad language when he or she is not around you. Don’t you want your child educated on what those words actually mean? Don’t you think they’d be horrified to find out they or a friend was using a word casually to describe another person? It’s happened with my son. The difference is that my son feels safe and comfortable coming to his father and me to ask questions and ask for clarity. Does yours?

B knows how babies are made. However, we don’t show him movies that have people having sex in them. If we come upon a sex scene by surprise, we skip the scene. If B asks why, we calmly, nonchalantly tell him he doesn’t need to see that and continue on with the movie. We don’t freak out, turn off the TV, eject the DVD and get it back to the store ASAP. He’s involved in the storyline! We all want to know what happens next, how it ends. Skip the scene and move on and he’s so engrossed in the story and quickly forgets the skipped scene.

It’s easy to send the wrong message when labeling something “inappropriate” and I don’t want my child to feel he is inappropriate for thinking about/being curious about things. Sex is not inappropriate. God created our bodies to have sex, to receive pleasure from sex and to create life. My 13 yr old watching a couple having sex, or he himself having sex, is inappropriate. Alcohol is not inappropriate. Cooking with it and having a couple of drinks at the end of a hard day or with Christmas dinner is not inappropriate. A teenager getting drunk at a sleepover or an adult drinking and driving is inappropriate. Taking my prescription properly for a condition or disease is not inappropriate. My son taking my prescription and selling it on the playground, is. These are important distinctions that needs to be made to our children.

My son will not learn what he needs to know about alcohol if his only exposure to it is adults having a glass or two of wine with dinner. His first view of, or experience with, a drunk person or a party full of drunk people cannot be when he’s hundreds or thousands of miles away from us in college, because he won’t just run back to his dorm room, lock the door and call home or open his Bible. He needs to know what drunk looks like, acts like. And although there are movies that can scare him with the worse case scenarios, that still won’t empower him to deal with college. Why not start out with something a little lighter, a comedy movie about college, sororities, or fraternities. Just like we do with all movies we watch (because we’re homeschoolers) the remote would be in my hand to PAUSE the movie and ask him questions about what’s going on in this scene. What’s his take? How does he feel about it? Any characters acting how he would? Any characters acting how he would not? Why, or why not?  Lectures telling him alcohol is bad, illegal at his age, tastes terrible and will make him feel like shit the next day won’t mean a thing to him when he walks into a college party with underage drinkers who certainly look like their having a lot of fun.

And then there are the rated-R movies that are just plain enjoyable to watch and we’re OK with B watching them with us. The Wedding Ringer, Spy, The Heat, MI-5, Kingsmen, to name a few. Friends, family and complete strangers always compliment us on B’s behavior, maturity and inclusivity. He doesn’t go around cussing, making crude gestures nor hiding things from us. He has not been corrupted, ruined nor driven towards drugs, sex and alcohol merely by watching movies with his parents and having open, non-judgemental discussion about them.

The world is a big, scary place, people, if you aren’t completely informed about it. I was sheltered as a child and inexperienced & unprepared for college life. I was told and talked to about the bad things in this world. But I was never shown. The words used to describe the evils and pitfalls of this world were not enough to help me recognize them in person. Telling me what and who was bad did nothing to teach me what to do when I encountered them. I learned, the hard way, about the bad things that can go on at colleges and I suffered for years because of it.

My son will enter battle fully trained and fully armed. Will yours?

Top 10 Posts of 2015

I know, I know: I haven’t been very active on the blog this year. My brother even contacted me to complain I didn’t do a #ThriftyThursday post this month! :-O As busy as this year has been for us, out socializing and such, I decided to be more present with my guys and focus on Christmas related chores this month. But Thrifty Thursday will resume in January!

Before we say goodbye to 2015, I decided to discover which blog posts were viewed the most this year. The #1 post blew all the others away! It’s views were more than 6 times the other top 9 posts combined!  Interestingly, none of the top 10 posts viewed in 2015 were actually written in 2015. So without further ado, here they are:

TOP 10 POSTS VIEWED ON YOU, ME & B IN 2015

10. My Copycat of Chicken Flautas from Costco (2014)
 9. Awesome Transformer Birthday Party under $80 (2014)
 8. DIY LEGO Birthday Cake (2011)
 7. Tied: Best Way to Reheat Pizza in the Microwave (2014) & “Our Job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are are worthy.” Thomas Merton (2014)
 5. President in a Bag – George Washington (2013)
4. DIY Sock Monkey Costume – Pictorial Instructions (2011)
3. DIY Star Wars Death Star Birthday Cake (2011)
2. How I Threw a LEGO Building Birthday Party for 8 Boys for Less Than $85 (2011)
1. Easy-Peasy Pork Tenderloin in a Pressure Cooker (2013)

I have no idea what next year will bring. However, I’m grateful for every single one of you who have stopped by to read something I wrote. Happy New Year and blessings to you all in 2016!

The Truth About Telling One’s Truth

There seems to be a little confusion about what it means to “Stand in My Truth”, “Tell My Truth” or “Share My Truth”. This confusion regards the smallest, yet most important, word in these phrases: MY.

That little word refers to the writer/speaker/stander alone. That little word means that the truth I’m telling, sharing or standing in must be mine and mine alone. It’s all about me, my experiences, my beliefs.

My truth cannot be about anything/anyone else, any group or organization with which I am not a part of nor in which I am not personally involved.

Let me give you some examples of what can and cannot be My Truth:

I am a woman. ✔️

Men are pigs. ❌

Pizza is my favorite food. ✔️

I’m allergic to olive oil, therefore olive oil is a bad food, in my opinion.❌

I am not a fan of professional football.✔️

I believe that the Dallas Cowboys are wimps. ❌

I picked Papa Johns over Dominos in the taste test because Papa Johns’ pizza tasted better to me. ✔️

Dominos pizza taste better than Papa Johns and if you don’t agree, you’re a moron. ❌

The statements followed by a ✔️ can be considered my truths. The statements followed by an ❌ can not. Even if I believed the statements marked with the ❌, they still could not be my truths because they are not about me. I am not a man, a pig, olive oil, a Dallas Cowboy player nor Dominos Pizza. Even though I used the words, “in my opinion,” and, “I believe,” I am not referring to myself. I am referring to things and people of which I am not.

“My Truth” has nothing to do with, and cannot have anything to do with, my opinion of others’ actions, beliefs nor (pizza) preferences.

The Truth

I watched the dash cam video of Sandra Bland’s traffic stop and arrest. I wish I hadn’t.

It is so upsetting. What could have been a simple warning and both parties going about their business after 10 minutes ended up with days in jail and a death. Both of them, grown-ass adults, let their tempers and pride run wild. It was a childish battle of wills.

She had to cop an attitude and keep pushing his buttons because of her pride.

Instead of acting like the person of authority he is and living his duty to protect and serve, he had to show her who’s boss and try and make her respect him because of his pride.

We can’t control other people. All we can control is our reaction to others. All we can do is act decent to each other and hope that sets the tone for the other person. All we are supposed to do is love others as ourselves.

Grace & Frankie

With so many shows on hiatus for the Summer, I’m glad networks have gotten smarter the last few years and are giving us new shows or new seasons of shows right now. Even though there are fewer shows and fewer episodes of Summer shows. I don’t have pay movie channels and can’t watch zombie shows because they will give me nightmares. I tried watching Orang Is the New Black on Netflix, but couldn’t get through more than 15 minutes of the first episode. Scandal is so hard-core, I keep threatening to stop watching, but I still hang on. For that reason, I haven’t watched House of Cards because I’ve heard it’s even more evil than Scandal.

Yesterday, however, I started watching Grace & Frankie on Netflix. And by “watch” I mean binge-watched. I watched 6 episodes yesterday and 3 more this morning! I love it because it is so grey, like real life. Our expectations, and the media’s portrayal, of life being just black and white is not only unrealistic, but impossible to obtain! Why? Because we are humans! Brutiful, fallible humans with good and bad in all of us, the ability to wound each other and be hurt by others. We all have the capacity to use our talents, smarts and tongue to build each other up and tear each other down. No one human is all evil, all good, all worthless, all valuable. There is something to like, love, hate and pity in all of us. And Grace & Frankie remind us of that.

Here’s the plot of the show: two 70 year old married men (played by Sam Waterston & Martin Sheen) have been business partners for as long as they’ve been married, 40 years. 20 years ago, they fell in love with each other and started an affair. The show opens with the husbands finally telling their wives (played by Lilly Tomlin & Jane Fonda) they are leaving them for each other.

Sounds pretty cut & dry, doesn’t it? The men, are obviously the “bad guys”, the ones to dislike in this show. They not only cheated on their wives but also lied about who they are for 20 years! They stayed with their wives while the women raised the children, took care of the house and, now, are leaving their wives all alone at the end of their lives? And to top it all off, they chose to tell their wives in a restaurant, hoping there would be no outburst or scenes made. However, I have sympathy and empathy for all 4 main characters. The writers and the actors get kudos for achieving that!

Because you learn that one marriage wasn’t happy and may have never been. One wife was going through the motions and hadn’t paid attention to (literal) signs that had been in her house for years. Would it have been better for both to continue on that way or for one of them to marry the man of his dreams and the other to be free to find her own? One spouse lost her best friend and had her heart broken so that her husband could be free to be himself and marry the man he loves. It’s hard not to be happy for two 70 year old men, finally free to be who they are, excited and proud to tell the world that they love each other! And come on, who doesn’t love a big, gay wedding?! There is pain, anger and regret felt and dealt by all of them, but there are also the possibilities and joy that can be gained by new beginnings.

But that’s not all! There are also the adult children, who have all grown up together, and the huge family adjustments. Your parents are divorcing, you have more houses to visit now,  and the man who was your “uncle” is now becoming your “stepmother”?! Dealing with that along with their own children, marital problems, the dating scene, their own careers and addiction adds more layers to the show.

Wow, I think I’ve managed to paint a very bleak picture of this show but it’s not! I laugh hard during each episode, as well. Because life is messy and complicated and grey. Grace & Frankie show all of that while making us laugh, cry and embrace all that we brutiful humans are!

If you’re are or have watched it, let’s chat! If you decide to start watching it, tell me what you think!

Movie Wednesday

Last year, I told you about our Language Arts curriculum, Brave Writer’s The Arrow.  Today is Movie Wednesday, but we didn’t watch a movie.  We watched a show that aired on ABC last night – Countdown to the Oscars: 15 Movies That Changed American Cinema.  I saw the show on the guide several minutes after 10pm, turned on the TV and hit record.  When we watched it this morning, it only captured #14 through #1.  I’ve searched the internet and cannot find what #15 was, so if you saw the show, please let me know!  Anywho, watching this 54 minute show provided lessons in not only Language Arts, but also History (of our country and the movie industry), Civil Rights and Cinematography.  B wants to make movies when he grows up.  He really enjoys doing it now and this show gave great, historical insight.  In the future, we will watch almost all of these movies for the content and ingenuity they will lend to B’s education.

Language Arts

The Brave Writer Lifestyle teaches us the importance of word selection in stories, whether they are told in books or movies.  When you read a great line in a book, the delivery is yours, in your head.  The tone of a book B reads may come across completely differently when I read it.  With movies, you hear an actor in character saying an iconic line; see the expression and emotion on their face as it’s delivered.  How many lines from movies stick with us, do we use in our daily lives?  Lines from movies decades old, movies we’ve seen years ago, still stick with us and we want to make that impression on others when we write (or act). Every movie on last night’s show had lines like that.  This show also reminded us when it’s fitting to not use “proper” English; when the local and/or historical way of speaking should be used. See if you can tell from which movie these lines came:

  1. “Whuzzah happenin’, hot stuff?”
  2. “I think we’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
  3. “STELLA!”
  4. “Well, when I’m good, I’m very good, but when I’m bad, I’m better.”
  5. “I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ no babies!”

History

Ever movie is on this list because it made cinematic history.  The Production Codes were created in the 1930s to censor future movies after I’m No Angel was released.  The multi-plane camera was invented in order to bring the first, full-length animated movie, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, to the screen. Easy Rider was the 1st indy film that became a blockbuster.  2001: A Space Odyssey birthed the Sci-Fi genre.  Jaws showed us that the score of a movie can make a villain.

So many times during this show, we paused to discuss not only the what and why of a storyline, but also the filming.  The shower scene in Psycho was a great topic!

B: [Janet Leigh’s character] was ridiculous in the shower!  She just stood there and kept letting out short screams while the bad guy took forever to raise his knife.  She should have attacked him or knocked him over and run.
Me: She didn’t scream that long.  She gave one scream, and the director chose to play it over and over again, at different angles, to prepare the audience for what was about to happen.  Otherwise, the scene may have gone by before the audience could absorb it and they might have missed it.  (I hit play again and B listened to commentators on the show describe how Alfred Hitchcock reinvented fear in this movie.  Audiences had not seen anything like this before and it was so horrifying without even being gory.)
B: I get it!  No one was expecting a murderer.  No one was expecting that character.  The director had to give the audience a second to get what was about to happen so that they could get and be afraid of it as it happened.  Cool!

But these movies also taught us about our History.  In clips from The Birth of a Nation, B learned that KKK members not only dressed in white but also covered their horses.  Although Hattie McDaniel was nominated for, and won, an Oscar for Gone with the Wind, she was not allowed to sit at the same table with her cast mates.  She was segregated to her own table in the back.  We discussed the significance of a black man cast as the main character of a motion picture (Lillies of the Field) in 1962 and Sidney Poitier winning an oscar.  B watched Halle Berry’s emotional acceptance speech in 2001 with shock that a woman of color had not won best actress until the 21st century.  Easy Rider was created by, for and about the 60s generation.

Oh my goodness, I can go on and on about this show and the wonderful lessons we got from it today, but I have to stop and make dinner now.  I can’t wait to watch one of these films next Wednesday!

Recent Measles Cases Spark Vaccine Debates Again

I recently wrote a post about the complexities of the abortion issue in Does Roe v. Wade stand another look?   Watching the news and reading lots of chatter online regarding whether or not children should all be vaccinated, reminds me so much of the abortion debates.

Abortion

  • One side states that no one else has the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body.
  • The other side can agree that a woman can do what she wants with her own body but the child is another, separate body inside of her, who has rights.

Vaccination

  • One side states that no one else has the right to tell parents what is or is not injected into their children.
  • The other side can agree that you have the right to decide for your child, however your decisions can, and sometimes do, affect other parents’ children.

Where is the “right” or “wrong”?  These issues, just like life, are not merely black or white; they are full of grays!  No one is out to harm innocents; everyone is just trying to do what is right for their children, for their family, based on their own, very personal, situation.  I do know that, as with religion, politics and abortion, no one will will be open to dialogue and there will be no progress as long as the anger and insults continue to fly.

 

Scandal S4:E2

WARNING: If you have NOT watched last Thursday’s episode of Scandal yet, do not read the following!

For the rest of y’all, I told myself after watching S4:E1 that I was done.  I can’t take the ugliness and dregs of human nature towards each other.  It affects me and stays with me the rest of the week.  I finally shake it by Wednesday and the Thursday, I think I can watch another one.  *sigh*  Anywho, onto Episode 2…

It never ceases to amaze me how conceited some men can be!  How could Cyrus Beene possibly think that the “gentleman” who approached him in the bar was actually attracted to him?!   OK, I guess there was one, remote possibility: that the man recognized who Cyrus was and was attracted to the power and influence that Cyrus has.  I don’t understand people finding power attractive, but there are some who do.  (Donald Trump keeps getting married.)  Even if he wasn’t attracted to power, I knew that the man had to be educated enough to know that it was The Cyrus Beene he was approaching and, therefore, it would not end well for Cyrus if he got involved.  The man would have something on Cyrus, to hold over his head, something with which to blackmail him.  When I saw him the 2nd time, it dawned on me that he might not be acting alone, that someone had hired him.  I didn’t know who, but certainly was not surprised at all when we found out.

Cyrus totally deserves it, though.  He was a monster before, the way he used his husband, James among many other things.  But now that James is dead, he doesn’t even pretend to be nice in certain circumstances anymore.

Oh, and I agree with Cyrus and disagree with Mellie in regards to whether or not their pain is the same.  The are both in the worst pain that either of them could possibly feel.  Cyrus could not feel worse nor could be broken any worse than he already is, and Mellie is the same place.  Cyrus’ love for James was the deepest he’s ever felt and James is gone.  Although Cyrus & James adopted a baby, that baby was never Cyrus’; he feels nothing for her, so he is not a parent.  The only love he’s known is for James.  Mellie is a parent and, therefore, has loved deeper and wider than Cyrus can even imagine.  When Mellie compares the pain she knows she would feel if she lost Fitz to the pain of losing Gerry, losing Jerry, of course, is worse!  But Cyrus, never being in Mellie’s position, can’t be compared to Mellie.  Does that make any sense?

Before we had B, I truly believed that if something were to happen to the hubs, my life would be over.  He was my world and I would not want to live without him.  Once we had B, I realized I didn’t even know what love was before becoming a mother.  I had no idea I had the capacity to love someone instantly, fiercely and as unconditionally as that.  Becoming a parent helped me to relate to, and finally have a relationship with, God.  I know now how He feels about me because it’s the same way I feel about B.  So, if something were to happen to the hubs, I would grieve, a piece of my heart would die.  I would never give another man the time, energy and love that I gave the hubs, but I could and would go on.  I have someone more important to live for and take care of: B.

So, even though their capacity for love is not the same, both Cyrus and Mellie loved their lost ones as deeply as they possible could.  And, therefore, their are experiencing the worst pain they each possibly can.

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