Life’s not always bright copper kettles

Julie Andrews had it right.  Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens are pretty sweet indeed.

My daughter has been on a musical kick lately.  It started with Annie, and was quickly followed up by Mary Poppins.  It went downhill for awhile when dad introduced her to High School Musical.  But when I saw one of my favorite movies of all time – The Sound of Music – on sale at the grocery store, I knew I could get things back on the right track.

I loved The Sound of Music growing up.  I remember it was always on right after Christmas, and it was the one night of the year my parents let us stay up past midnight so that we could watch the whole thing.  The movie conjures up memories of snuggling with my dad by the Christmas tree while we sang along to songs I knew by heart.

So I was delighted when Bobo took to the movie.  Snuggling in bed while teaching her Do-Re-Mi created a warm fuzzy feeling for me that took me back to my own childhood.

It wasn’t until the second half of the movie, undoubtedly darker than the first, rolled around that I started to question whether or not it was a good idea.  It was during the scene where they showed some soldiers and the swastika that Bobo asked me, “Who are those men, Momma?”

Without thinking, I answered back, “Those are the Nazis.”  As soon as I uttered the words, I regretted them.

Because she immediately countered back with, “What’s a Nazi?”

I suddenly wished maybe we were watching High School Musical instead.  Obviously, there was no way I was going to explain to my preschooler what a Nazi was.  I fumbled with the answer, and mumbled something about them being soldiers.

She was satisfied with the answer.  For the time being, at least.

I, however, was not.

You see, my daughter understands that most things we see on TV or in the movies are not real.

She understands that I am not Mary Poppins.  And that one does not simply snap their fingers to clean up their room.

She understands that cars don’t really fly, ala Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

She understands that the people in the movies are actors playing a role.  They sometimes wear masks or disguises, but underneath, they are just people pretending to be something that is fantasy.

So how do I explain to her that some things you see in movies are real?  That horrors happen in life that I won’t be able to explain or justify?  That people like the Nazis actually existed and they were bad, not because they wore a scary mask or evil costume, but because they committed awful, incomprehensible acts against other humans?

Those are questions I don’t want to address, but I know I will have to eventually.  And, thankfully, she has a few more years of innocence and childhood before we likely have to worry about heavy conversations like that.

Maybe when she’s 16, going on 17, the question will come up again.  And maybe, by that time, I’ll have a better answer.

Mama's Losin' It

20 thoughts on “Life’s not always bright copper kettles”

  1. Nazis? Tough one. I think you did as well as you could for this age. Luckily my son, at almost 13, still only lobs me easy ones like; "Do you like Wilford Brimley?" or "Why you go to the bank?" My 10 year old daughter, on the other hand, throws me knuckleballs all the time. I try to speak slowly (which is completely out of character for me) which gives me time to measure my response. If it's something I'm not sure I want her to know too much about, I sometimes throw in so much superfluous detail that she eventually loses interest. If she asks about sex, I just go into a coma or fake a seizure.

  2. Tough one, indeed. When the time is right and our children are old enough to handle it (16 going on 17) the harsh realities of the world can be revealed and not a minute sooner, I say. Great post! Stopping by from Mama Kat's. 🙂

  3. I immediately started singing "She is 16, going on 17" in my mind! I Love the Sound of Music as well. My sons see something bad on TV and say Naughty and shake their fingers, I can't imagine having to explain Nazi to them…not yet!

  4. Oh!! I SO could have done this one or My Fair Lady… or even The Phantom of the Opera! HAH! However, I don't have much company in my home with those… So I did mine on The Princess Bride which is a SHARED LOVE by the WHOLE family!Preschool… Nazis… Yeah… You could say soldiers under the influence of an evil leader… ??? *sigh* Just don't let her fall into the delusional people that try to say the Holocaust never happened… UGH!

  5. I loved Mary Poppins as a kid, my sister and I still sing to the tunes on occasion. But the question is a difficult one to deal with. I would personally start explaining it to her in terms she understands. My theory is that I would prefere she got a life lesson from it through me rather than someone who could tarnish her beliefs about the world.

  6. Oh my… you gave me goosebumps. Jay just asked the other day if witches and zombies were real… I of course answered no. His response was so real and profound… "Oh mom… I DID NOT KNOW THAT!!"Nazis… ugh… that is tough. We want to guard our kids from such terror… but yet want them to know it exists. Great post.

  7. You gave a fine answer. Fine. Kids don't need to know every stinkin' thing. They think they do anyway so just let 'em think that and save that ugly crap for later, when you feel like proving to them that they don't know it all!

  8. "The hills are alive with the sound of music!" I LOVED this movie as a child. Maria inspired me to learn to play guitar. 🙂

  9. Wow, I have chills. Great writing my dear. But even more so, great peek and introspection into what all of us will have to ponder, or have already confronted, the ugly truths in the world we'll need to one day explain. Your post reminded me to embrace and enjoy every last moment of innocence we still have with them.

  10. i like how you ended it on a high note, and with song. :)i know what you mean; it would seem like you are going back on all the "pretend" stuff you told her about for so long.

  11. Sometimes having t have all the answer quite frankly sucks. You did an awesome job. My four year old has discovered that good guys are supposed to "stroy" bad guys. Ugghhh!!!

  12. Ugh, I hate that stuff. Seriously, it's the hardest thing about parenting (I think)…having to tell them that the world isn't all rainbows and kittens. I love that movie too, but wouldn't have even thought about the Nazi scenes until it was too late.

  13. Tough, but I always try to go for the truth — but as much of the truth as you think your child can handle. I don't like to sugar coat, but there is no need to go into gorey details either. I might say something like "Nazis were bad soldiers who did bad things. They are the bad guys in this movie, but they were real soldiers in a war many years ago." Then only provide details to questions she asks.

  14. Tough, but I always try to go for the truth — but as much of the truth as you think your child can handle. I don't like to sugar coat, but there is no need to go into gorey details either. I might say something like "Nazis were bad soldiers who did bad things. They are the bad guys in this movie, but they were real soldiers in a war many years ago." Then only provide details to questions she asks.

  15. It's so strange because I LOVE this movie so much, but now that I'm 36 going on 37, I realize the impact of that scene and the movie itself. It's just so dymnamic and impactful on so many levels. A tough lesson for little ones and you did the right thing.

  16. What? What do you mean you aren't Mary Poppins???Well, I love The Sound of Music. I think that it's important to tell history the way it occured. And you certainly opened the door to it, and you should be glad. You are so lucky she showed interest in the movie. My kids found it too long. They ended up bailing on me, and i watched again for like the 100th time…Alone! Next time call me, I'll come watch it with you guys.

  17. I love the sound of music! Always imagined I was Maria running in the open field, except for the nun part. I did have a hard time understanding the nazi's though.

  18. You answered perfectly. I have a feeling when she is ready to understand the horrors of this world you will be ready to share. Beautifully written post.

  19. That was really good! I really liked reading that. I know what you mean. You handled her question really well. I don't think I've ever seen "The Sound of Music" in it's entirety. Isn't that horrible? It's on my list. Thanks for inspiring me!

Comments are closed.