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It hasn’t been a very long time at all since I started relenting on my PG-rated-only movies rule. My son complains bitterly that his friends get to watch movies like Saw V and why won’t I even let him watch The Dark Knight? I have been so careful for so long by screening films before I would let him see them; making my judgments based upon what I feel is at least an “acceptable loss.” My rigid stance on this issue has become so ingrained in him that he even calls me on the weekends that he is at his mama’s to ask whether he can watch a certain movie or not. When our neighbors downstairs put on Fast and the Furious for their 5-year-old, my son trudged up the stairs and asked if I would come read the back of the DVD case so he could watch it, too.

It was about that time that I realized how humiliating this might be to him. While I am absolutely not ready to allow him to watch the Saw series, I do think that, at 9, he can probably handle some of the PG-13 films if they aren’t too violent and don’t reek of sex. I gave in to The Dark Knight and we both got hooked on Hellboy and its sequel. So far so good. Until tonight.

Tonight was our movie night. We have On Demand, so I was perusing the offerings on HBO and came across Will Smith’s I am Legend. Mind you, I have seen this movie before. Hey, it’s Will Smith, right? A guy, his dog, a bunch of human eating zomboids…how bad was it, anyway? Oh, right…pretty bad. We started out okay and then I realized that my big boy was becoming a smaller and smaller ball in the corner of the sofa as time went on. Pretty soon he had a pillow over his eyes and was begging me to fast forward through the CGI flesh-eating bits. Then we came to the part about the (spoiler alert!!!) dog and well, that was it. I stopped the movie and we switched over to an episode of Man vs. Food. The one from Boise, Idaho where he eats a habanero pizza and 6 lbs. of hamburger, pastrami, and chili cheese fries. I actually thought that was far more frightening.

“Mom?”

“Yes, honey?”

“Can I sleep in your bed tonight?”

“Yes, honey.”

I took him in and we went through our nightly ritual of turning on his Christmas CD (yes, he listens to the same CD at bedtime 365 days a year), performing Little Bunny Foo Foo (he tries so hard to keep me from tickling him until he is ready to puke from laughter), and taking turns naming 10 good things about the day. I started to leave when he asked me to leave the light on. Oh, and maybe that other one, too. Um…and mom? Can I have that other stuffed dog on the floor? Okay, maybe the one from my room, too. And where’s the one I gave you for Valentine’s Day last year? I pulled it out from behind the overstuffed armchair in the corner. Are you okay now? He nodded. I kissed him on the forehead and went off to get some more work done.

I went to bed around 10, planning to read a bit. I’m well into Frank McCourt’s ‘Tis, and I try to fit in at least a few chapters every night. I walked right into the stuffed animal scene from E.T., The Extraterrestrial. My sleeping boy’s face was just visible through a slew of stuffed creatures, including Sock Monkey, which I know was in his room when I left earlier. I smiled and lay down. He stirred as I climbed onto the bed and as I looked at him, he slowly opened his eyes. He focused on me eventually, his lips turned up in a small half-smile, and his eyelids dropped heavily back down.

So much for my big, brave boy. I imagine that our next movie night will be more Doogal than Doomsday.

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