16th June 2008
Here’s a typical on-the-way-home conversation that I am subjected to on a regular basis. My children are bombarded with all the advertising and merchandise that is actively targeted towards six year olds (examples include dressing up outfits for Pirates of the Caribbean, sticker books for Iron Man and Kids Meal toys for Spiderman and the Fantastic Four) but because of the language and violence, the movies themselves are rated 12……
Turtle: Mummy, have you seen the new Incredible Hulk movie?
Me: No, but I used to watch it on TV when I was little.
Turtle: The movie?
Me: No, it was on the TV. Like one of your programs.
Turtle: Oh. Was it a cartoon?
Me: No, it was a, erm, real life, you know, like…. (drawing a blank)….not actual real life, but with real people in it.
Turtle: Oh. Who was the baddie?
Me: I can’t remember.
Turtle: C’mon, tell me.
Me: No, really, I can’t remember. It was a long time ago.
Turtle: Was it the Abomination? (referring to something he’s heard on the advert for it)
Me: Um, I don’t…. Oh! (suddenly remembering) Well, the Incredible Hulk was actually the baddie, but he didn’t mean to be.
Turtle: (blank look) How was he the baddie?
Me: (excited to be remembering something useful to a six year old) Well, he drank a potion and it meant that whenever he got angry, he turned into the Incredible Hulk, he did things he didn’t want to do.
Turtle: So why did he drink the potion?
Me: Well, he didn’t know what it was. He was trying to make something else and he made a mistake.
Turtle: What was in the potion?
Me: Um, I don’t know.
Turtle: I think it was…….eyeballs……green syrup…..and……some dirt.
Turtle: What colour was the potion?
Me: Er, I can’t remember.
Turtle: Was it pink or green?
Me: I think probably green.
Turtle: Yeah, I thought so.
(settling back in his chair while I sigh with palpable relief at having given satisfactory answers, until…)
Turtle: What did you do when he drank the potion?
Me: Well, he turned green and got so big that he ripped his clothes, then he started to break things and…
Turtle: No. What did you do when he drank the potion?
Me: (pause) What do you mean?
Turtle: How did you feel?
Me: (wondering whether they have started teaching Key Stage 1 counselling as part of the new Ofsted regulations) Well, I was appreh…. I was worried, because I didn’t want him to do it.
Turtle: Yeah, but were you like this….(pulling anguished face) or this…(scared face) or this….(hiding face behind hands).
Me: (struggling not to laugh) Er, like this… (pulling anguished face and hoping no other drivers are looking inside our car).
Turtle: Yeah, I thought so. (pause) What did you do when there was fighting on the program?
Me: Well, I don’t like fighting, so I was like… (trying to do a scared and reluctant face).
Turtle: (in disappointment) Oh. What did your brother do? (paraphrase: because as a girl, naturally you are rubbish at watching and appropriately reacting to decent fighting programs on the TV, so I want to know what a male child would do in a similar situation.)
Me: Um, he was probably excited because he liked the fighting (paraphrase: I have no idea, I wasn’t really watching his reaction and know that he is actually a bit of a nancy who likes housework and cries at sad films, but I suspect that’s not the answer you wants to hear).
Turtle: Yeah, but was he like… (closed happy mouth smile), or like...(toothy happy smile), or like…(mouth open wide in a silent cheer).
Me: Er….(conscious of man on bike alongside us at the traffic lights)…like this (closed mouth smile).
Turtle: Yeah, I thought so. (pause) And what happened in the middle?
Me: (wishing there was less traffic so we end the torture sooner) In the middle of what?
Turtle: In the middle of the program.
Me: With me or Uncle Dave?
Turtle: (withering look) With the Incredible Hulk.
Me: Well, he, er, just, you know, the usual stuff like the police trying to get him and things like that.
Turtle: (astounded) Were the police the bad guys?
Me: No, the Incredible Hulk was the bad guy, er, but he didn’t mean to be the bad guy, it was because of the potion, so the police, er, they just tried to capture him because they thought he was the bad guy.
Turtle: (as if talking to a simple child) So, who was the baddie?
Me: Well, it wasn’t quite as straightforward as that, there wasn’t really a bad guy, they were just after each other, because they thought…because the Hulk did things he didn’t want to do.
Turtle: So why did he drink the potion?
Me: OKAY, WE’RE HOME!!!
At least it wasn’t as bad as the time he wanted to know what happened to King Kong at the end of the film. I made him ring Richard and ask him instead.