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R-Rated Movies: When We Became the Parents We Judged

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We're the parents who allowed our 12-year old daughter to watch two R-rated movies.

Is it my imagination, or have our phones stopped ringing for play dates because we're the libertines leading our child down the inglorious path of foul-mouthed, fart-laden, flipping-the-bird juvenile delinquency? Is this just our next foray into bad parenting?

We didn't used to be those people. We were upstanding. Blameless. Our kids were only allowed to watch Little Bear and maybe Phineas and Ferb on our edgier days.

We were the parents who didn't want our child having play dates at the house of the 10-year-old whose parents let her watch Jaws.

What was wrong with those dunderheads? Didn't they know that Jaws was far too scary for their baby? That she'd certainly be traumatized and have to move to Urumqi, China, which Yahoo Answers says is the furthest point on planet earth from an ocean?

Then, one week ago, it happened.

I walked into the living room at 1 a.m. to find two insomniacs, my husband Henry and 12-year old daughter Clare, watching Johnny Knoxville encased in rubbery wrinkles and a melanoma-speckled bald cap sharting in a diner booth in the film Bad Grandpa.

(I will leave it to the intrepid reader to purloin the meaning of the word "shart" in the Urban Dictionary)

"Isn't that an R-rated movie?" I queried shrilly.

My husband explained that our daughter was nervous about 7th grade starting and couldn't sleep, so he thought he'd "cheer her up" by allowing her to watch this hilarious (depending on your scatological tolerance level) film.

And not to worry, he was fast-forwarding through the strip club scene.

I judged him. Oh, how I judged him, right up until the following night, when I rented the R-rated Identity Thief on Netflix and realized I simply had to share the comic genius of the deliciously zany and zaftig Melissa McCarthy with my child.

How could I cheat her of even one more day not knowing the perfect hilarity of McCarthy singing, "My milkshake tastes better than yours" to Jason Bateman, the master of understatement, in a quintessential buddy movie?

Especially since my child would not understand that "milkshake" was something other than a tasty ice cream drink?

Yes, there was language in that film, to be sure. Enough F-bombs to flatten Normandy.

And I did have to fast-forward through Melissa's bawdy romp between the sheets with the inimitable Eric Stonestreet of Modern Family fame.

But there was also a myriad of shared belly laughs and the mutual memorization of classic lines of dialogue that have since been used to divert arguments between my daughter and me.

When she was mad I forgot to wash her softball uniform, I gazed at her lovingly and said, "This light is very flattering on your chin."

When I was annoyed she didn't pick up her room before bed, she cozied up to me and said, "Your beard smells like sandwiches. Nice."

We just can't stay mad at each other under these circumstances.

While I recognize that some parents will be scandalized by my permissiveness, I wouldn't miss watching these films with my daughter when she's at this in-between age.

At 12 years old, I am the mommy she still wants to cuddle up with in front of the TV; our feet entangled, our hands scrabbling around to get the last burnt kernels out of a bowl previously filled with popcorn, and I'm also not her mommy, but simply another human being on this hurtling rock through time and space who shares her specific brand of humor.

It's a fine-line I'm walking. Like Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke. A fine line muthaf#$kas!

I'm aware there are boundaries we cannot cross and that, for better or worse, I will always mostly be her mom, and less frequently her friend.

But I've learned that not all R-rated films are equal and that in watching these films with my daughter, we're bonding and making memories.

Good ones that I hope she'll have for the rest of her life or at least as long as the light falls flatteringly upon our chins.

How do you monitor what your child watches? Any hard and fast rules? Or do you handle things on a film-by-film basis?

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