Cara's goal in life right now is to be a big girl. She wants to do things by herself and help me with whatever I'm doing. Don't call her a sweet girl or mommy's baby or a little booger; she will quickly correct you. "No, Cara's a big girl."
Because Cara is a big girl, I wanted to let her have a fun, big girl experience for her birthday. We love movies around here, so it seemed a good idea to take Cara to the movie theater for the first time. She was awesome. She loved the popcorn, she understood that she needed to be quiet, and she even managed that crazy, fold up chair. However, we took her to see Brave, and I'm not sure we made the best movie choice.
I did a very small amount of research about the movie before we went, which was probably my biggest mistake. The reviews praised the main character, Merida, for not falling into the typical Disney princess role. She's more of a tomboy, and the plot revolves around her relationship with her mother, who, um...turns into a bear. I did read that there were some scary scenes, but I pictured these scenes as the usual scary Disney stuff. Remember when Maleficent turns into a dragon in Sleeping Beauty? Or the fight between Gaston and the Beast in Beauty and the Beast? These scenes are scary, but they are very brief and somehow seem very imaginary. The scary bear scenes in Brave are longer and quite frightening. They seem more real for some reason. Cara ended up cowering a bit in my lap, and I wondered if I had made a mistake by letting her see the movie.
(That's not to say that Brave isn't a good movie. I actually really enjoyed it, and I would say it's perfect for an audience of six and older. Merida's mother as a bear was very funny; she worked really hard at maintaining her queenly dignity even though she no longer bore any resemblance to her former self. The relationship between Merida and her mother was heart warming and true to life; neither was blameless, but they forgave each other and came to understand each other better by the end of the movie. Love won.)
All of the good stuff from the movie was probably lost on my three-year-old. In retrospect, I probably should have waited until Finding Nemo comes out in 3D (but even that one is a little scary). I worried that Cara would have nightmares, especially when she asked if I was going to turn into a bear as we walked out of the theater. I assured her that I was not planning to be anything other than her mommy, and I reminded her that in the end, Merida's mommy turned back into her mommy.
Fortunately, there have been no nightmares and no mention of scary bears. I asked Cara this morning what she thought about going to see Brave. Her answer was "it was fun and scary," and that's been the extent of her thoughts on Brave and bears. Part of me feels like slapping my forehead, "what was I thinking??" but another part of me is offering grace. I'm still learning too. It's my job to monitor the media my children are exposed to, and when I fall down on the job, I have some explaining to do about why I'm not turning into a bear any time soon.