Television, Kids, and Fear

by Ginger on October 29, 2012

in Mom Thoughts

Big Giant Spoiler to last week’s Sons of Anarchy in this post. But I have got to talk about this, so please don’t yell at me if you haven’t watched it.

One of the things that changed, drastically, when I had Jackson, was my ability to watch violence towards and to kids. It started when I was pregnant, which is when we began watching Battlestar Gallactica. There’s a scene in the very beginning of the miniseries movie where one of the characters has an incident with an infant that made my heart catch in my throat as I thought about our coming baby.

That? Was nothing compared to what came after he was born.

To be fair, one of the big parts of my anxiety was/is thoughts of death, particularly of my loved ones. So that’s kind of a trigger for me, and something I try to avoid if possible. I’ve stayed away from certain books that are about murdered kids, I’ve stopped watching crime shows, heck I try to stay away from the news… it’s just not worth the chance. I’m able to deal with it if I’m somewhat prepared, but by and large my threshold for watching kids get hurt is at about a 2 on a scale of 100.

So when we watched the end of last week’s Son’s of Anarchy, and I saw the blood dripping down from a silent unmoving little boy–who, hey lookit that, looks shockingly close to my kid’s age–I literally burst into hysterical sobs. I hid my face in my hands and I sobbed, because holy hell that is my nightmare and my anxiety and my fear and I just can’t. CAN’T. And it’s not like it was something that I could shake off as “unlikely” in my life–gang violence, or a shootout in the streets, or anything else that might have happened because of life with gun & drug running bikers. No, this was a car crash. Which is not really out of the realm of reality here, where we spend hours and hours every week on the road. It was entirely too easy to put my kid into that scene.

Forget the warnings about nudity, where is my “Warning:Children are hurt during this show. Viewers who can’t handle that should maybe leave the room” warning?

Maybe it’s because it came after a day of reading headlines (not articles, I can’t read the articles anymore) about murdered kids, lost kids and other kids who died, but I just…that scene gutted me guys. It took me an HOUR to get to a point where I could try to sleep without visions of car wrecks in my head. I have watched more violence and gore on Sons of Anarchy in the last few months (we only started watching the series about a month or two ago, so it’s been pretty concentrated) than is probably advisable, but it took a “simple” car accident for this show to really shake me.

The odd thing is that LOGICALLY, my brain says, “DUDE, it’s just a TV SHOW. Chill out.” But logic clearly doesn’t have a place when this happens. Logic can’t always stop fear. It can’t always reverse emotion. And when it comes to those visceral, punch to the gut emotions about my kid? It has NO power in the moment. Maybe later, when I can talk my way through it. But in that moment, fear and anxiety and, in a weird way, grief, all take over any logic that might exist.

I don’t know how much of that is anxiety, or how much is motherhood. I don’t know if it will get better, or if this is now just a part of “things I can’t handle.” All I know is that part of me changed when Jackson joined our lives. And that part of me has a hard time with kids, real or fictional, who get hurt.

kakaty October 29, 2012 at 12:43 pm

I USED to be a big fan of Criminal Minds. Loved the show. But once my daughter was born I realized that nearly EVERY show was about twisted, creepy violence towards children OR towards women. I’m not a high anxiety person in general, even postpartum my worst fear was tripping down the stairs with my baby in my arms. But nope, not going to willingly watch kids getting hurt. I can’t take it.

Erin October 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

Funny, was just talking about this episode with my husband yesterday … that scene combined with the opening episode with Tig’s daughter? Yikes. Pretty harsh. The show is getting pretty heavy and I kind of wish they’d just stick to killing only bad guys.

Nanette October 29, 2012 at 1:41 pm

I don’t watch that series, but I can totally understand how disturbed I’d be to see that.

I’ve often wished tvs/movies would include a disclaimer about losing a parent to cancer. It’s too close to home for me and gets me every time.

ruth October 29, 2012 at 1:53 pm

I am the same way; I had a pretty solid tolerance for violence before babies arrived. We also watched BG during my pregnancy with Baby Uno and that scene disturbed me. Then I tried to watch True Blood on maternity leave with Baby Uno and couldn’t make it through the first episode due to the evil, gratuitous violence. I can’t handle cop shows, Grey’s Anatomy doesn’t bother me (maybe because it is just too soapy to be real?), but the Husband knows to quickly change the channel should anything on the news, a TV show, or movie shows any violence or injury to children or women. If I had seen Sons of Anarchy, I would have had a very similar reaction. I never knew that my babies would change me so dramatically.

Ann Wyse October 29, 2012 at 7:01 pm

I feel this way, too. I think it might be one of the reasons I *love* reading blogs. They are so…everyday and ordinary without the drama and violence. If I only had (YES! UNLABELED DISTURBING) articles, books, television shows and movies to read/see, I’d go crazy.

Also, the violence wasn’t as prevalent when I was living in Germany and exposed to predominantly German media. Sometimes, that makes me want to speak out against the exposure to violence more strongly – because clearly it’s possible to live with less!

Cloud October 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm

And this is why I don’t watch much TV these days. I was always sensitive to this sort of crap (also to people doing things that will embarrass them- so good-bye most sitcoms) but like you, I have gotten more sensitive as a mom.

I also struggled a lot last week and basically had to avoid the news all weekend. Sometimes, the weight of the pain and suffering in our interconnected world is too much for me to take, and I have to revert back to a more local time, where I only know about the things going on in my little corner of the world.

Christa the BabbyMama October 30, 2012 at 5:53 am

I cried for hours after watching the Torchwood special miniseries because there were children involved in the plot. I can’t even watch sci-fi if there are babies or kids in it, so I pretty much actively avoid anything that has plots involving anything yucky happening to anyone under 16.

oilandgarlic October 30, 2012 at 8:30 am

Since having kids, I can’t watch TV/movies or read books that include hurting kids as a premise. A year ago, I read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. In that book, there is a brief paragraph or 2 about Dracula’s minions killing a baby and the mother wailing and pounding on Dracula’s door, before being killed herself. That tiny part of the book has stuck with me ever since. Obviously so much happens in that book but if I think of it, I think of that mother’s pain. Seriously that was 2 paragraphs of that entire book.. I’m a wimp, I know!

Bree October 30, 2012 at 4:53 pm

….and all along I thought it was being a senior that we had such an aversion to all the violence, guns, pyroteknics, senseless killings and general mayhem. I never experienced what you young Moms’ have but I’m very empathetic to your feelings….I’m very sure I would share your feelings today if mine were babes. I totally find most tv/movies very disgusting! As a friend pointed out…they no longer need any screenwriters, there really is no dialogue or storyline, guess they just wing-it. My tv diet consists of PBS, HGTV, FOODNETWORK and anything free of that senseless stuff.

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