Sometimes moms make mistakes. I am one of those moms.
It started off innocently enough. Seeing as I was emitting radiation, I thought it would be best for Tyler to take the girls out of the house last night for a Daddy/Daughter date night. The diaper bag was packed, Sassy was growing more and more excited with anticipation over the "supwise", and I had a fun-filled night mapped out for the three of them.
I thought it would be great for the gang to catch a movie. Sassy loves movies. Sassy really loves popcorn. Little A is generally very well-behaved at the theater, and it sounded like a winning combination to me. I searched for show times for Monsters Vs. Aliens, and unfortunately, none of the times seemed to fit into our schedule. I quickly glanced at the "cheap show" to see if there were any kids movies playing. Low and behold, I saw a movie I had never heard of, but it was animated and rated PG.
Coraline. I took a very quick glance at the website- a very quick glance. All looked fine. I took a few pictures, and they were off to have a night of fun!
At around 8:45, the phone rings. It was Tyler. He said, "That was a really weird movie." "Did you guys like it?" I asked. "Well, Sassy was pretty scared," he said. My stomach sank. "Scared? Was it scary?" I asked. "I don't really think it was for three-year-olds," he said.
I race back downstairs and start researching the movie online. The first page I pull up is Wikipedia, and I see this statement:
Coraline is a fantasy/horror novella by British author Neil Gaiman, published in 2002 by Bloomsbury and Harper Collins.
Since I have not seen the movie, and I can't really paraphrase what I don't know, allow me to share the plot summary with you all:
Before the tale begins, Coraline and her parents move into a new apartment. Coraline's parents are always busy with their work and pay her little attention. Isolated, Coraline goes off to explore. She meets the other inhabitants of the house, Miss Miriam Forcible and Miss April Spink, two elderly women retired from the stage and an even older man named Mister Bobo, who trains mice to play music. She finds a locked door in the drawing room, though the entrance beyond is bricked up. The next day she takes the key to the door, opens it, and finds a dark corridor leading to an apartment identical to her own. This alternate world is inhabited by her Other Mother and Other Father, who are near-replicas of her real parents, except they have buttons for eyes. These Other parents at first seem more interesting, fun and caring than her real parents. At the day's end, Coraline's Other Mother offers her a chance to stay in this world forever if Coraline will sew buttons over her eyes. Coraline decides she would rather go home, much to the disappointment of her Other Mother.
Upon her return to her apartment, Coraline finds her real parents are missing. They do not return by the next day, and Coraline, discovering they were kidnapped by her Other Mother, resolves to rescue them. Coraline travels again to the Other Mother's world. After angering her Other Mother by refusing to accept gifts or love, she is trapped behind a mirror as punishment. There Coraline meets the souls of three children from different eras whom the Other Mother entrapped then tossed aside when she wearied of them. After the Other Mother decides to take Coraline out of the room, Coraline challenges the Other Mother in a game to find the children's souls and her parents within the Other Parents' world, using her wits and a seeing stone received from her neighbors. Coraline finds the others' souls and escapes to the real world, forcing the door closed on the Other Mother and severing her hand. Back in her apartment, Coraline finds her parents safe and sound.
The next night, Coraline discovers her task is not done. The Other Mother's severed hand, which is still in Coraline's world as she accidentally snapped the Other Mother's hand off while closing the door, attempts to steal the key so the Other Mother can exact her revenge. Coraline lures the hand to a well and tricks it into falling in with the key, ridding the world of the danger of the Other Mother forever.
Other Mothers? Button Eyes? Severed Hands? What damage did I just do to my three-year-old sweet pea?
Sassy was fast asleep when they arrived home, so I wasn't able to talk to her about it until this morning. I asked her how her night with daddy was, and she said, "Good." I asked her how the movie was, and she said, "It was scawy, mama." "I know, I heard," I told her. "I'm sorry it was scary. You know that movies are just pretend, right?" I asked her. "Yeah," she said, "It was just pwetend." "Is there anything you want to talk about?" I asked her. "That mom was mean," she said. "Not the weal mom, the udder mom," she said. "She was mean and hurt her eyes. She was scawy." "Yeah," I said, "We won't see anymore scary movies, okay?" "Yes," she said. "But, we will still haf popcorn, though."
I think she will pull through.
I have learned my lesson, though. I really, really wish I would have checked out this website (my friend, Crystin told me of it a while back) before I chose to send them. Then, I would have seen that the movie was recommended for ages 9+ and the brief synopsis was "Cool but creepy animated fantasy too scary for young kids".
At Common Sense Media, you can look up a variety of movies, books, TV shows, etc to see how other parents rate their appropriateness for children.
Sorry, Sassy and Little A. Mommy didn't mean to scare you!