Wyatt and I watched Naruto for the first time. Let us just say that will also be the last time the orange jump suited ninja will be allowed in our home for awhile.
The line between fantasy and reality is a thin one when you are a kid. Our imaginations go wild in youth. Dreaming big dreams, playing on playgrounds of fantasy. Reality, physical consequence, stalking at the unseen edges ready to pounce.
In one of the Naruto episodes Wyatt and I watched, Naruto accidentally gets clawed by a weapon in battle. The weapon’s tips laced in poison. Naruto decides to act. To get rid of the poison, he jams a knife into his hand. Blood shoots out. At this point, I’m blocking my son’s eyes. I wasn’t quick enough.
“Daddy, do you remember that ninja guy who shoved a knife into his hand?”
“Yes. You know that wasn’t real but was fiction, right?”
As much as my preferences for story surge against the dam of sanity, I made a mistake. Not only that, but that I failed in my role as a guide for my son.
I have to remember, I am the gatekeeper. Not only controlling what walks in past the gate but also for taking my son in hand and beyond the gate. His mom and I are tasked with explaining life to him. Helping him navigate between what is real and what is fantastical.
One of my greatest faults, as a father, that I’m sure I share, is that I am always in a hurry for my child to grow up. I want to share much cooler worlds than those that Garfield inhibits. Age, individual maturity, and even family rules dictate that Naruto stay beyond the gate. For now.
The last thing I want is for him to think that the mature violence depicted is somehow okay to carry out in real life.
I apologized to Wyatt. Told him that Naruto can’t come over and play for a bit. He wasn’t thrilled, cliffhanger episode, but maybe with time he’ll understand.
Being a dad is hard. The mistakes I make are often centered around me wanting to fast forward time. Contentment, meanwhile, calls.