“Mom! Ariel got married at sixteen?? But she didn’t even go on her mission yet!”
“Mom! Jasmine is not dressed very modestly.”
“Mom! Belle didn’t even go to college! How can she marry the Beast? And he didn’t go on a mission either!”
I want to laugh. But I’m too delighted all the family home evening lessons are actually hitting home. We can scarcely watch a Disney flick these days without some commentary about their gentile, un-kosher ways. Everything from Ariel’s “two-piece” to the prince’s non-RM status, to Mrs. Potts serving tea? I try to explain that everybody is in a different stage of learning, that not everybody has our same standards or same belief system, but still l like to feign shock and awe when confronted with worldly ways.
This high bar can lend itself to plenty of public awkward situations. For example,
They have no trouble lecturing their soccer coach on the evils of coffee at their 7am games. Or the within earshot, “Why does that lady have a tattoo?” Or, “Why does that grown man drive a motorcycle? Doesn’t he know how dangerous that is??” (That last one is a personal family rule of ours—I was raised by an accident/injury trial attorney. I grew up viewing my fair share of gruesome Exhibits A and B…)
But most of the time, I’m happy they hold themselves against such a high standard.
The other day my oldest boy came to me with our Where’s Waldo book and told me we had to throw it away.
“Why do we have to throw it out? Did you circle all of the Waldos again?”
“No. Just look at this beach page!!” he cried in horror.
Sure enough, all those microscopic cartoon figures were indeed spilling out of their bikini tops and by our family standards, inappropriately dressed for the beach. Even the men had on the kind of skimpy swimsuits you only see on European beaches.
Part of me wanted to giggle and roll my eyes–it’s Where’s Waldo, but a bigger part of me was too thankful that all of our parental lectures hadn’t fallen on deaf or uncomprehending ears. “He gets it,” I thought. I had to take his concern seriously.
“Well, what should we do? We can throw out the book, staple these pages together, or…” my eyes darted around the kitchen for my Sharpie. “Or, we can draw them some decent looking bathing suits with this! Voila!”
The kids and I spent the next several minutes filling in with inky blackness dozens of bare midriffs. We raised the necklines of bubbled over buxom blonds and busty brunettes. By the time we were finished transforming the page, the beach scene was peppered with strappy black one-pieces and decent length trunks. There. All better.
Perhaps at some point during their teenage years, this same high bar will appear dauntingly too high. I’d be a fool not to anticipate some struggles down the road. Maybe even about swimsuits.
But isn’t the high jump all about strategy? The angle, the speed, the trajectory…The approach. If I can remember anything from my high school track and field days, it’s that approach is more important than the actual take-off in order to clear the high bar. That’s where our focus should be, and that means more and more FHE lessons for us, for years to come.
Oh, and that big, padded, soft landing is pretty important too when you’re trying to clear the high bar head first for optimal height.
I think that’s what families are for: A big, padded, soft landing for when we give it our all.
Margaret Anderson is a BYU graduate, returned missionary, freelance writer, and mother of four small children. You can read more at www.jamsandpickles.wordpress.com