Sunday, April 27, 2008
Pulling on the reins
I did something yesterday that I never imagined myself doing. I walked into a cinemaplex, entered the darkened theater where the movie flashed, and found my 14-year-old son.
"We're going home," I said. And he got up and followed me.
I don't know if I'm really mad at him, but I do know I was manipulated and I'm pretty pissed at the dad who took him.
Saturday was a busy day. I was at a writer's conference all day and my husband was working. The kids were left unsupervised. Well, the youngest spent the day at a friend's house after soccer. So my 14-year-old left a sleepover to walk over to another friend's house. He called -- three times in a row until I answered -- to tell me the change of location. I called him back at lunch time.
"Could I please go see Escape from Guantanamo Bay?" he asked. I'm picturing terrorists and guns and chase scenes.
"It's a comedy."
I asked a passing friend. "You know anything about it?"
Not suitable for a 14-year-old, the friend suggested.
"Make another choice," I told him before I went to eat a grown-up lunch.
Later in the day, my phone rang, vibrating in my pocket. A session was wrapping up and the phone vibrated again before I could escape to the hall to answer it.
"Please, Dylan's dad is going to come with us so we can get in to the r-movie."
The agent I was hoping to catch was coming out the door. I wanted to talk to her.
"Okay." I agreed to the r-rated movie so I could catch the agent.
When I got home, he stopped by for money and my phone rang again, this time it was the mother of one of his friends. "Are you really letting him go, because I'm not letting Dakota."
She read the review from Common Sense.org. Incest? Sexual positions? Excessive drug use?
The father, divorced, was waiting in the car with his son and another boy who was allowed to go. I walked out to the car, barefoot.
"Look, I'm not going to let him go," I said. "I just don't want to deal with all of those issues. Sorry you waited for him."
They started to drive away when the son yelled, "We could see something else."
The boys agreed and my son hopped in the car. In the house again, I looked at the newspaper to see what their other options were. Under PG-13 I saw Prom Night? A slasher film.
I texted the boys. I'll take you to the video store to rent something.
No. We're going to see 88 Minutes, they texted back.
I'd seen previews. Al Pacino. Probably a lot of tense moments, I thought. Wait. That was rated R too.
I looked it up. Violent torture of women. Victims are hung upside down in their underwear.
That was when I decided. Carrie was with me, so I wouldn't humiliate my son alone. We walked in the theater and said, "Our sons are in an R-rated movie without our permission."
They let us sail by like we were Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip.
As we walked out of the theater with our sons, the father came running out after us.
"I'm sorry. I didn't think."
I didn't turn around, I kept walking with my boy towering over me, my hand on his thin back.
When the dad stopped by later, to apologize again, I made amends. "He should have known he wasn't allowed to see that movie and he should have told you." I said to the dad.
"I shouldn't have put a 14-year-old in that position," he said.
Yeah, I wanted to agree with him. You shouldn't have. But you're the divorcee. The fun-time dad.
"Look, any movie that is degrading to women, I'm going to object to."
I wanted to say, you have a daughter too. Don't you get it?
But I didn't.
I'm reconsidering the freedom my 14-year-old has. You can bring your friends here, I told him. For awhile. Let's stick around home. Where I know there are adults who are keeping an eye on things.
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