Last night, defying all the memes and impassioned tweets telling me “Don’t take your child to see Deadpool!”, I took my child to see Deadpool. In fact, I went along with another mom who also brought her child. And while I certainly feel judged, I don’t feel like we’re bad moms.
I know it isn’t pithy, but rather than “Deadpool is not for children!” I’d much rather the warning was, “This movie earned its R rating. Please research it carefully before deciding to bring your child to see it.” A meme spread by people who don’t know my child shouldn’t tell me what my child is ready for. Because what all the memes and quotes and other bite-sized edicts don’t address is the huge variance in what the term “child” encompasses.
My daughter is 15. Her friend is 14. They are, by all legal definitions, children. But if you’ve ever spent any time with teenagers or have clear memories of being one yourself, you know that they are very much on the cusp of adulthood. And as much as we may need to legally claim that certain birthdays magically bring maturity, in reality it’s a huge spectrum that teenagers bounce back and forth on, nearly minute by minute. A 15 year old is so very nearly an adult in so many ways, and the past two years have brought more growth and maturity in my child than any time in her life since she was an infant.
So yeah, your “No children!” rule feels useless to me. She certainly doesn’t consider herself a child, and she has a point. I certainly don’t consider her a full adult, and I have a point. But grouping her in with the elementary school kids who are unquestionably not the target audience for Deadpool doesn’t recognize the reality of reaching adulthood and how close to it many people legally deemed “children” really are.
Both of us moms researched the hell out of the movie before we took our kids, and we each left a younger sibling at home after deciding only our oldest were ready. We read tons of reviews, including ones aimed at parents that detail all the things parents might want to know about. I asked people to vet it for me, and a friend gave me a wonderfully detailed review of things that were both good and questionable for a younger viewer. The other mom posted the question to Facebook where almost everyone told her that under no circumstances should she even consider taking her kids to Deadpool, along with, to my mind, a strongly implied “Are you an idiot?” Meme after meme was posted to her timeline, which is why I didn’t ask Facebook.
We knew the movie was possibly on the edge of what our kids were ready for, so rather than say no, we went with them. We sat on the aisle so they could easily take a bathroom break if things got too intense or uncomfortable. And both of them were fine. They loved it, and they were willing to talk about it afterwards. I know my daughter didn’t understand every single joke, but to be fair, neither did I.
Yeah, there was some pretty adult stuff in that movie. And as much as I’d like to shelter my child from everything questionable, she also needs to be ready to be out on her own in 3 short years. If I think this is her first exposure to violence, foul language, nudity, and sex jokes, then I’m being horribly naïve. By watching the movie with her, now we can talk about it and I can answer questions or discuss things I found problematic. And I feel like that makes me a better parent than if I thought forbidding my child to see a movie would somehow protect her innocence.
We’ve always been the parents who are very conscious about what media their kids consume. I will admit to giving the side eye to the parents desperately trying to convince their 5 year old that it was water not blood flowing over that stone in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s important to know what you’re taking your kids to see.
Therefore, before Deadpool came out, I was leaning toward no, even though my daughter really wanted to see it. I’m sure many people would think I caved, unwilling to stand by my “No,” thus proving myself the kind of mother who is everything wrong with those spoiled and entitled “kids these days.” But I felt that if I was going to say no to something she really wanted to do, I should research what I was saying no to. And in the process, I learned enough to decide that it was something she could probably handle as long as she could walk away if it was too much—thus going with me and sitting on the aisle. She has shown before that she has the maturity to remove herself from situations that are uncomfortable, and that proved to me that she had the maturity to decide for herself if she wanted to go to the movie.
So I took my child to see Deadpool. And that doesn’t make me a bad mother.