When I think back to my childhood, I think about ice-cream sandwiches, playing Barbies, hours of swimming with my cousins, making clubhouses in a copse of spindly trees, the babysitter asking me if it was ok for her to smoke in the house (turns out it wasn’t), and watching some great, but entirely inappropriate, movies. In my early years of elementary school I was watching Jaws, Halloween, and The Shining. I discussed the merits of Nightmare on Elm Street on the school bus. Jesus, was I eight-years-old when that came out in 1984? I definitely didn’t see it in the theater, so maybe I was 9 or 10. My point is that I was young.
It’s not like I was sneaking around to watch these movies. My parents knew that my sister and I watched horror films. My cousins’ parents knew what they were watching too. It was all perfectly fine as long as we didn’t have nightmares. It may sound like a totally insane parenting philosophy, but I’m thankful that I grew up that way. There wasn’t a lot of parental oversight when it came to what I watched, read, or listened to. If something made me uncomfortable, I stopped watching. If a book was over my head, it was probably boring, so I stopped reading. I appreciate that autonomy, and hope I can raise my son with some modified version of that. I think I’d like to have more open discussion concerning the media and art he brings home when the time comes.
So here’s a short video on three movies that impacted the most. They should’ve been terrifying. They should’ve left me afraid of the ocean and afraid of the boogeyman, instead I’m left with some unforgettable memories of growing up free range with my sister and cousins.
* For the record, I don’t really think that my parents’ choice to let me watch these movies was bad parenting. I think I turned out ok in the end.