The other day one of my kids called. “Did you know Mary and Laurel are watching ’13 Reasons Why’?” he asked.
I knew Mary was. The show about a girl who commits suicide had created enough rumblings before the final episodes that I was aware of it and asked Mary about it.
“It’s really well done,” she said.
“Does it glorify suicide?” I asked.
“No,” she said firmly.
When I found out that Laurel was watching too, I cringed a little.
At that point, it was too late though. The lid was off the jar; the fireflies had escaped. I can’t really change that.
“What do you think of it?” I asked Laurel.
“I dunno,” she said, the standard teenage answer for almost everything, not because they don’t know but because it’s hard to articulate thoughts and feelings.
Last night my friends were discussing it, and not favorably.
“Does the show glorify suicide?” I asked Mary again.
“No,” she answered, “it does not glorify suicide.”
“I feel like I shouldn’t have let you two watch it,” I said to them. “I’ll bet so-and-so (and here I mentioned the name of a wonderful mother I know) wouldn’t have let her kids watch it.”
Laurel laughed. She was sprawled on the couch with her head in my lap. For all her grown-up height and attributes, she still likes to snuggle.
“If she hadn’t let her kids watch it, they would have watched it anyway,” she said. “Saying no would just make them want to watch it more.”
It reminded me of when I was around Laurel’s age and “Summer of ’42” came out in the theaters. Everyone was going to see it. Everyone but me, that is. My parents were adamant.
Back in the 70s, I couldn’t sneak up to my room and watch it anyway. I would have had to walk two miles into town and hope the ticket person at the theater wouldn’t question the scrawny pre-teen trying to buy a ticket to an R-rated movie.
Nope, couldn’t do that — so I read the book.
Laurel was right. “No” to a teen means find a way.
I suppose it would have been nice to process Summer of ’42 with someone, but I also suppose if my mother had asked me if I had any questions, I would have said, “I dunno.”
But for my children, especially my daughters who watched a show about a girl who commits suicide, let me give you 13 reasons why not.