Being a parent is really a scary process. You question every decision, wondering if your actions will scar your child and one day send them running to a therapist for safety. As the responsible party you are filled with regret when something does go wrong. Much like the parents in the movie Jurassic World. Spoiler Alert! They send the kids off to be with their childless aunt so they can make the final arrangements for a divorce. Oh and I forgot to mention, they send them to a park on a small isolated jungle island with dinosaurs. What could possibly go wrong there?!?
Well, I know the story because we recently saw Jurassic World, which was one of those actions as a parent you worry about. Is it going to be scary, is it going to cause nightmares and sleepless nights? And I do mean sleepless for you. But, my six year-old son loved it. He wasn’t scared and watched the movie all the way through. Before we watch any movie I always remind him, “If you see something that scares you, just close your eyes.” That is really the best parenting advice I have and I also use it myself as an adult. Following the movie, the combination of his fascination for not being scared, along with the movie itself, encouraged the conversation about the original Jurassic Park.
In the most abridged version possible, I retold the original movie from the 90s. I remembered the beautiful scenery and the cool Jeeps, and not recalling all of the details of the movie, I talked about the grandfather’s dream and the grandkids who visited him, quickly added that they got attacked by the dinosaurs at the end and reminded him along the way that this was fiction and this place did not actually exist. He wanted to know more, but we couldn’t find the movie on YouTube, so then it was kind dropped. Yes my at-home movie watching habits are still in the pre-Jurassic period.
“You know how I wanted to know about Jurassic Park? Look what I found,” Azul excitedly said while holding on to his new discovery of an old copy of the Michael Crichton book. I forgot I had the book and remembered even less of the book than I did the movie. In his enraptured state, I promised we would start reading the book that evening. We usually we read two books a night, first he reads to me and then I read a chapter or two of a more advanced book to him.
First he read Felix Feels Better, which is a cute book about a hamster-like animal who gets sick and by the end of the story he feels better. And really, by the end you feel better too. Then it was my turn, I began to read and quickly skipped the intro because it was over his head and we wanted to get to the dinosaurs, so I moved on to the Prologue. I had completely forgotten the opening scene was about a kid getting sliced up by a raptor! Even though the title of the Prologue is The Bite Of The Raptor. Who takes these titles literally anyway?
Once we came to a break in the story I looked at my wide-eyed hatchling and asked, “Was that too scary?”
“YES! I’m scared.” He replied in a shaky high-pitched little boy voice, and then, “Will you lay with me?” Oh no, remember the sleepless nights? Here they come. I tried to recover by talking about how sometimes books seem much scarier than movies because of the detail and that it was just fiction and none of it really happened. I had done enough damage for one day, so I just stopped talking.
As l lay there with him, riddled with parental guilt, waiting for the familiar sound of rhythmic breathing and the slight body twitches that indicate sleep, I thought, “What was I thinking? This is therapy material for sure!”
Once I absolutely knew he was asleep I got out of his bed, grabbed the book on the way out of his room and silently returned it to the bookshelf in my bedroom, where it will stay. Maybe we’ll re-explore this book later, maybe one day, but not today, today it’s just too scary.