My husband and I screwed up so badly last weekend that we didn’t even try to blame each other. Imagine that, a giant screw up in which neither spouse points the finger at the other. Yep, that’s how obviously awful it was.
You know how the scary movie always begins with a scene so idyllic it seems cliched? The young, happy couple heading out on that perfect picnic at an empty park, or the adorable, young family embarking on a beautiful hike in remote hill country. The audience knows what they don’t, that the crazy clown serial killer or mutant hill people are just off camera, waiting to wreak havoc and destroy innocence.
That is how my 11 year old son and his 10 year old best friend came to watch the movie Deadpool. With my permission. Under my roof.
Allow me to set the cliched opening scene. Two boys, friends since the day they were born (because their parents are the best of friends) spend the afternoon riding in Dad’s cool pick up truck, then ice skating, then romping around their huge yard, throwing tennis balls to the playful golden retriever. Mom and Dad grill hamburgers and hot dogs and make brownies — all the boys’ favorite foods. There is much laughter and sugar consumption as the 10 and 11 year old discuss which movie they will watch after dinner. Mom and Dad are in a particularly jovial mood because their daughter is away at Girl Scout camp and the boys are entertaining each other. Mom and Dad discuss which movie they might watch while the boys enjoy theirs.
“Deadpool! Deadpool! Deadpool! Deadpool!” When I walk into the living room, the two of them are chanting, pumping their arms, their eyes dancing. I look at the TV screen and see what looks like a super hero wearing a mask.
And this is when I made the world’s worst parenting decision. I did not look up the movie. I had vaguely heard of it. I read the two sentence blurb on the screen that, in my mind, sounded like a typical superhero movie. Like Spiderman. But different.
“Okay.” They cheered and I left the room to clean up the kitchen. I should have noticed that my son doesn’t normally cheer when allowed to watch a movie. I should have paid closer attention to the almost desperate look on their faces. I chalked those things up to buddies having a great time.
I would later learn that Deadpool was the stuff of lore at school. Some kids their age bragged they had seen it, but those kids were not to be believed. Why not? Because Deadpool is filled with graphic violence and nudity and sex and is Rated R. It is a profane, critically acclaimed movie that is for adults only, not 10 and 11 year old boys.
In ignorant bliss, I continued my major parent fail by suggesting the boys watch it upstairs alone, so my husband and I could watch something in the living room. They sprinted as if chased, probably still stunned that mom had said yes.
So how did we finally realize our huge mistake? My husband went upstairs when the movie was almost over, to check on them. He walked downstairs, his face ashen. “Uh, I just heard f*&! said about five times in a row.”
I almost fell out of my chair grabbing for my phone. I googled the movie. I actually heard myself groan when I read what was in it. It was filth. As in dirty-dirty-filth. I can’t even share with you all that’s in it. I can’t. It makes my stomach hurt.
We had to fess up to our dear friends who had entrusted us with their son for the night. They were appropriately horrified. They knew all about Deadpool, because adult family members had seen it and told them, “Don’t EVER let your kids see that movie.”
You’re welcome. Deadpool watched. With adult permission. Check.
I am accused, quite regularly, of being overprotective of my children. I find that journalists are pretty paranoid, because we often see the dark side of human nature. I am the mother who has more smoke detectors than recommended. I am scared to let my son walk two doors down to his friend’s house. I do not let my children go on just any play date. I don’t let them attend pool parties without me. I don’t let them have any screen time after school during the week. I don’t let them eat high fructose corn syrup, for goodness sake. I am suspicious and scrutinize everything and my kids would probably tell you, with big, sad eyes and great self pity in their voices, that mom says “no” far more than she says “yes.”
I sure made up for lost time.
I waited until the morning after to tell them that we had made an awful mistake. They were still giddy. I was very stern. No, Daddy and I made an awful mistake. They reassured me the movie was very funny. It wasn’t that bad. No, they weren’t scared. My son’s friend said, “I’ll work it out with my parents,” like an attorney arguing leniency for his client. Even he knew I was screwed.
My son begged to be Deadpool for Halloween. No.
When I asked about naked people, the look they gave each other can only be described as the sort that will be remembered when they are grown men, recalling that time their mother let them watch that filthy movie. Alone. Upstairs.
Who knew I was such an effective defiler of innocence?
At some point I realized, ‘Oh my God, I’m that mom who buys her underage kids beer.’ We all thought that mom was cool until we grew up and realized she was the bad mom.
Just like that, I’m that mom.