It’s fascinating how we look at TV and books as small children. Even when we understand them only partially, or barely at all, they become a part us and the meaning we make of the world.
I was fairly strict about how much TV my daughter could watch when she was growing up. But whenever she was home sick, I let her watch the full BBC Pride and Prejudice – nearly six blessed hours of respite for both of us!
Annelise was born in 1994 – a year before the P&P TV mini-series was made, so she started watching fairly young. She’s is a sophomore in college now and recently, when rewatching the series together, she reminded me about how I had explained one aspect of the film that puzzled her. It was the scene at the inn in Lampton where Darcy finds Elizabeth distraught over the news that Lydia has run off with Wickham:
Darcy: You are not well. May I not call a doctor?
Elizabeth: (crying) No. I am well. I am well.
Darcy: Is there nothing you can take for your present relief? A glass of wine? Can I get you one? Truly, you look very ill.
At this point, Annelise paused the DVD.
“Mom, remember what you told me about that scene when I was little?”
Truthfully, I did not.
“You said that Elizabeth was crying because she was afraid she’d have to see a doctor and get a stick down her throat!”
I guess Annelise had no trouble empathizing with Elizabeth’s distress after that!
Then there’s the scene in Sense and Sensibility (1995) where Mrs. Jennings offers to procure a treat for Marianne who is grief-stricken over Willoughby’s betrayal:
Mrs. Jennings: [to Elinor] Ah, me! She had better have her cry out and have done with it. I will go and look out something to tempt her – does she care for olives?
Elinor: I cannot tell you.
“I could never figure out why Elinor wasn’t allowed to tell Mrs. Jennings whether or not Marianne liked olives,” Annelise told me much later.
Some things are just really deep secrets.
Then again, sometimes kids do get it. I wrote in a previous post about the time I was wheeling Annelise in her stroller at our local mall when all at once she cried out, “Prejudice!”
Everyone turned and looked at me accusingly; what was I teaching my child?
“Huh?” I said, leaning over the stroller.
A smile spread over her face.
“Mr. Darcy!” she cried.
I was one proud mom that day, but I don’t think anyone at the mall appreciated just why.