I want you to know why I have RUINED all your beloved kid's media.
So the other day, I let you watch How To Train Your Dragon and you were delighted. I watched along with you, fell in love with that cat-dragon Toothless and chuckled at Viking bravado.
Then I decided that you were finally old enough for me to let loose with some next level ruining.
ME: (during the scene where the kids are going to learn to ride their previously enslaved dragons) Hmm … if I were those dragons and I had been taken away from my family and held captive in an arena where they FORCED me to fight for my life or be killed? I wouldn’t be down with this. I would cook them all where they stand and try my best to fly home to you. I don’t think it is fair that now the dragons have to ride the vikings around.
Then I shoved a handful of Cheetos in my mouth to take the edge off.
You thought for a while and you said, “The dragons should ride on top of the vikings for a while.”
Hell yeah they should.
My first level of ruining was during your Thomas the Train era. Thomas the Train is CHOCK FULL of plantation mentality.
Think about it. All the trains are measured by how hard they work for Sir Topumhat. Steamies and diesels are pitted against each other. When the diesels try to prove their worth or demand equality, they are punished. Ah, yes, I found Uncle Thomas the Train disturbing.
Did I even think about not letting you watch? Nope. Because I value my kneecaps. And you would have taken a Fischer Price chainsaw to them if I made the house a no-Thomas zone.
And we loved Thomas together. I took you to see that thing when it was in town. I have a stash of about 10Gs worth of train and train accessories that I know will be flash points for ALL THE MELANCHOLY when you leave me for Princeton.
But none of that stopped me from speaking up when I didn’t think something was fair. Or when I thought Thomas was being an asshole and nobody was calling him on his bullshit.
I asked you how you thought the diesels felt? And if you felt like Thomas should apologize for what he said? I wondered out loud if the trains were paid to work this hard?
Sometimes you answered. Sometimes you didn’t. But I just wanted you to think about the message you were being fed.
Some days I am STUNNED by how much WRONG our culture feeds to our kids. Don’t even get me started about Rumpelstiltskin. That story says that if you’re pretty, you can lie and break promises to people who helped you in your hour of need. Especially if they are ugly.
There’s too much out there. I can’t fight it by not allowing you to see it. You’re gonna see it. I can only fight it by teaching you to think critically about the stories you are told.
I’m very gentle with my ruining. I did not pull out my Marcus Garvey poster to draw parallels for you. I’ll let you close that loop later. But I know that even a gentle ruining knocks a tiny bit of fairy dust off of your childhood.
But I’m hoping a joyous but questioning spirit will lead you past tales to truth, and to justice.