By Genevieve Suzuki
While it may be common knowledge, no one actually tells you when you become a parent you’re in for a lifetime of worry.
As soon as you figure out you’re pregnant, you worry for the first 12 weeks that the pregnancy will be healthy. After that, you hope the baby will be healthy. And after birth, you religiously watch that baby for the first four months of its life, praying it will live through whatever mystery is behind Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. (My husband took it one step further, holding up a mirror under her little nose on a couple of worry-filled nights.)
Once your child starts crawling, your worries multiply by a thousand as you baby-proof every electrical socket, place padding on table corners and move glass or porcelain items out of reach.
And then your child starts to learn. In my opinion, this is when worries become infinite.
The other day I came home from work to find my 5-year-old playing with her Littlest Pet Shop dolls. I hate these dolls. I step on these dolls all the time and yes, they are just as painful as LEGO bricks, thanks to their hard little extremities.
My daughter has a sweet little voice. After a long day with difficult issues, it’s nice to hear that sweet little voice playing with her dolls.
“OK, Honey,” she said, playacting as the mother. “Mommy is going now, so here’s a gun to keep you safe.”
“Quinn,” I said, turning slowly to my daughter. “What did you just say?”
“A gun. This is a gun,” she said, showing me something she fashioned out of some random plastic toy parts.
I looked up at her iPad then to see she was watching YouTube, the subject of many arguments with my husband. It’s not that I hate YouTube. It’s that I hate that — when we aren’t sitting right there with her — my daughter has the tendency to find completely inappropriate videos.
And oh, boy, she hit the mother lode with this one.
Titled “Bullied and Abused,” it’s the story of a Littlest Pet Shop Doll who took matters into its own paws by shooting itself after being bullied and abused by other Littlest Pet Shop Dolls.
While I understand the creator was likely trying to portray some kind of message to kids that it’s not OK to bully people, a plastic wiener dog attempting suicide is not exactly conveying the more positive idea of “It gets better.” Rather, it’s showing kids that if you’re bullied enough, you can make everyone sorry by killing yourself.
Additionally, when it comes to making that point about bullies, it may not be the best idea to use Littlest Pet Shop Dolls, whose market comprises mostly 4- to 8-year-olds, many of whom still believe in the magic of Santa and the Tooth Fairy.
My husband and I finally sat down with Quinn that night and spoke to her about what she had seen. We told her guns are not the answer, at least, not in our house, and that you need to stand up to bullies, not hurt yourself to prove a point.
Honestly, I don’t believe she really understood half of what we said, but at least we felt better that we had addressed the plastic bullying elephant in the room. In the meantime, we have since deactivated Quinn’s Safari access so that she no longer freely watches YouTube clips. If she wants to watch something, she has to ask us first.
As with many movies, the Internet demands parental guidance while our kids are surfing. After all, it wasn’t Quinn’s fault that she was accessing random clips on YouTube. It was our fault for not providing the necessary stewardship.
—Genevieve Suzuki lives in La Mesa and is a past editor of this newspaper. She practices family law and can be reached through her website, sdlawyersuzuki.com.