My daughter and I happened across an old episode of Leave it to Beaver recently (which proves my point that all the good shows are on after I go to bed). I have to believe it was unrealistic even in its day, but let’s take a look at a few choice scenes.
After Ward helped the boys build a rabbit hutch first thing in the morning before they headed off to school (yea, that’d happen), Ward and June discovered that Beaver’s rabbit was pregnant except they couldn’t say “pregnant” because that might incite young boys and girls to have sex. Instead, Ward looked at June and said, “You mean she’s…,” to which June arched a perfectly-plucked eyebrow and smiled knowingly.
Wink, wink, nod, nod.
That night, June chastised Ward for being a wee bit late getting home from the office, and by “chastised” I mean “laughed nervously.” Before they could get into it over how Ward never helps around the house and how June wants to take a lover (OK, I made that part up), Beaver rushed in.
The pregnant rabbit had given birth and The Beav went ballistic. He was so confused by the birth that he ran into the house saying the rabbit was being bitten by rats. Ward reassured him that, in fact, she was simply feeding her babies just the way cats and dogs and, well, “all warm-blooded animals do.” Apparently Ward couldn’t bring himself to mention human babies because he was in mixed company.
At this point my daughter, a little freaked out by the image of rats biting a bunny, turned to me and asked innocently, “Why does he keep saying ‘gee’ all the time, Mommy?”
Thus concluded Beaver’s lesson on the birds and the bees. Cue the music.
It was a well-veiled attempt to educate 1960s young Americans on the natural process of reproduction. In fact, it was so well-veiled that most young Americans probably didn’t even get it.
I wonder how Wally and the Beav would fare today? Turn on any form of media in the 21st century and young Americans will get an education so vast it boggles the mind. As parents we have to educate and inform our kids and at the same time protect them from the barrage of “too much information.”
My husband and I have opted not to expose our three kids to every form of media that tickles their fancy. We have not provided cell phones or I-Pods much to their dismay. Ditto computers in their rooms. They don’t have season tickets for every PG-13 movie that comes to town and they don’t watch MTV, CSI, South Park or Real World. No IM-ing, Sex and the City or Cosmo Girl. It’s OK to keep them innocent just a little longer. Innocent not ignorant.
The definition of innocent is “blameless, in the clear, above suspicion.” The definition of ignorant is “unaware and uninformed.” I’m not trying to raise an uninformed kid. In fact, I want my kids to be well-informed and have great conversations with me about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. I want to respect their curiosity and foster communication and help them learn to stay blameless and in the clear.
Despite their penchant for perfection, gee-whiz, maybe that’s what Ward and June were after, too.
Charla Belinski is the author of the column “Are We There Yet?” in the Glenwood (Colorado) Post Independent where she shares her common-sense style and humorous world view on parenting each week. Charla has recently completed her first novel, It Came a Fine Rain. She lives with her husband, Tim, and three children near Aspen, Colorado. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.