Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment
As the mother of an 11-year-old daughter who falls asleep every night surrounded by posters of Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Kristen Stewart, I know a little bit about living with a devoted Twi-Hard on the eve of The Twilight Saga: Eclipse. I figure, just like her long-gone childhood obsession with The Wiggles, this too shall pass.
Still, it makes me uneasy that she’s already aware that this is the sequel where Bella and Edward consummate their relationship. And my tween daughter can already see beyond Eclipse to Bella’s pregnancy and inauguration into the undead. I understand that, in Eclipse, Bella’s hunky plaid-shirted dad, Charlie (Billy Burke), has one of those awkward talks with his moody teenager about safe sex. (Won't it be irrelevant, since she's dating a man-eater? Wouldn't safe sex with a vampire involve garlic, wearing a cross and stowing a stake under one’s pillow?)
I, for one, don’t want my tween getting a safe sex talk from a guy who doesn’t even know his daughter has feelings for a vampire and a werewolf! But I have to remind myself that all the Twilight movies' intense supernatural undercurrents amplify the preexisting hormonal feelings that sooner or later deluge all teenagers. And that’s exactly why the books and movies resonate.
Admittedly, it’s tough for me as a mom -- often trying to limit the unexpected in my own overcomplicated, overscheduled life -- to appreciate the drive toward social drama that pulsates through my daughter. She’s driven to experience social opera in magnifyied slights on the schoolyard, in extravagant crushes on impossible boys, in her devotion to the backstage maneuvering on Glee that expresses itself in outbursts of song.
For me, it takes a lot of reaching back to remember the angst-ridden tween universe. My first truly favorite movie was Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 Romeo and Juliet. I was nine when I saw it. While Juliet didn’t dither between two supernatural sweethearts, she did fall rapturously in love with a guy from the wrong side of town while still an impressionable teenager. And it didn’t end well.
But Juliet did have one rapturous night where she was truly alive, naked beside Romeo amid white sheets until the larks called -- and the crap hit the fan. This heightened romance was as authentic in Shakespeare’s day as it is in the Twilight era. And at the time, my 9-year-old mind might not have understood exactly what Romeo and Juliet were doing in that bed, but I certainly wanted to know more.
And it takes that kind of imaginative leap to begin to understand what kids are experiencing when gazing at Bella and Edward and Jacob rapturously circling each other, and not just dismiss it all as mass-market merchandising.
Do you agree that parents often overlook how profoundly meaningful Twilight is for tweens? Chime in below!