Thursday, October 28, 2004

Reference point

Today I watched White Water Summer on cable. The on-screen summary described it as a kind of coming of age tale involving Kevin Bacon as a "sadistic" camp counselor.

Problem is, I'm not sure I agree. Asshole I'm willing to concede. But I'm not sure I'm ready to go to sadistic.

I think some of this is because of the nature of the movie. Bacon's character starts out relatively normal, and it's only as the movie progresses that his idiosyncrasies are revealed.

It's not as if this is some pinnacle of modern cinema, that I should be considering it so deeply. But it did highlight something that I'd been pondering earlier this week.

You see, my situation growing up was less than ideal. Lots of people have had it much worse, so I don't like to complain, but it does trip me up now and then. There are some things I grew up with that I know I never want my kids to experience. Those things are easy enough, because they're out there in the open.

It's the hidden things that I worry about. If I can watch this movie and not see the sadism, what else am I missing? And if my perceptions are so skewed that I don't recognize abuse when it's in front of me, how do I guard my kids against it?

Awhile back, a couple from my church told us, "Before we had children, we planned to raise them such that they didn't need therapy. Now we just hope that we'll be able to afford good therapists."

When I tell this story, a lot of people don't like it. They hear the voice of parents who have given up. I don't. I hear the voice of parents who have surrendered to their imperfection. I hear parents who have the courage to admit that their best may be lacking. I hear parents who have the wisdom to have a back-up plan and who have a sense of humor about their short-comings.

Mostly, I see an example I'm hoping I can live up to.