I shelter Staley. It's a fact. I know I can't keep her from experiencing the scary things in this world forever, but I want to keep her toddler innocence for as long as I can. To that end, I'm careful about what she watches and what she sees and what we read. I have limited her television viewing to shows that are positive or educational. I leave out parts of some of the stories that we read or change some of the words. Even in her Good Samaritan Bible story, I omit the part where the robbers leave him on the side of the road to die. There are just things that I'm not ready for Staley to learn about yet.
To that end, Staley has never seen an actual movie. She's seen episodes of her TV shows and sing-a-long DVDs and clips of princess movies. But even with her love of Disney princesses, all the princess movies have 'scary' parts that I just wasn't sure Staley was ready to see. However, she has recently become very interested in the new Disney movie, "Frozen." Her baby-sitter has a "Frozen" book that Staley has obviously read countless times. She now consistently pretends that she is Elsa, the snow queen (from the movie). Zach and I talked about taking Staley to see the movie, but since she had never seen a movie at home, I thought we should probably cross that bridge first. So yesterday at home, Staley and I watched the movie "Tangled." I knew it had the evil mother character and thieves and ruffians and some fighting. I knew there were some tense moments where people were being chased or trapped underwater. I knew that the male character gets stabbed and almost dies at the end. (Hope I didn't just spoil the movie for anyone planning to see it.) Throughout the movie, especially during those parts, I watched Staley closely to make sure she wasn't getting scared. She didn't. She loved it!! And when I asked if there were any scary parts, she answered, "No. It's a movie for kids."
I enjoyed sharing that time with Staley (and she obviously enjoyed her movie viewing experience), so I had decided that maybe we would venture out to a theater soon to see "Frozen." Until she woke up early this morning, crying because she had a bad dream. Zach went in to check on her, but I was already regretting my decision to show her "Tangled" and feeling like a bad mom for exposing my daughter to something that caused her to have a bad dream. I was wondering if it was the fighting or the evil mother or the scary men or the stabbing that was the cause of the tears. When Zach returned from comforting her, I asked what her bad dream was about. He had gone in and asked Staley why she was crying. Her response? "A little girl took the yellow balloon that Liam let me borrow."
I realized that I can't shelter Staley from everything. Because it wasn't the action and adventure, the close calls or the near death, the mean men or the manipulative mother that had infected her dreams. The thought of someone taking her yellow balloon was the reason for her sadness...but maybe a trip to the movies can take her mind off it.