This evening we were having a late dinner alone (the children had already eaten) when Olivia came rushing into the kitchen.
“Please come downstairs and watch the film with us, it’s scary, there’s an evil man on the roof.”
The film she was talking about is Oliver Twist. This is not the first time she has been scared by a film. A Christmas Carol had them all quaking on Boxing Day. The graveyard scene in Great Expectations still makes them shudder, even though they’ve seen it at least twenty times.
Aside from what most people would call suitable viewing (like the above) my children also watch Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy. Always with me. Not from any sense of parental responsibility but because I don’t want to miss an episode.
A lot of my friends and relations think this is a bad thing. They think I’m irresponsible. Maybe they’re right. But here’s the thing (as Meredith would say) they have never once been frightened by anything that happens in either of those programmes. I think because they’re so far removed from their world that they’re simply not scary to them. They don’t relate to them on that level, unlike Oliver Twist who is a child and whose suffering they can assimilate.
I asked a pediatrician friend of mine recently if I was wrong to let them watch these soaps.
“Can they do any lasting damage?” I asked.
She laughed. “No, not at all. But what you have to remember is that they love watching them so much because they watch them with you.”
Well, here’s the thing; the feeling’s mutual.
Copyright: Helena Frith Powell 2007