'please stay a child somewhere in you heart...'
my oldest son is 9 years old.
oh, excuse me. he'd want me to tell you he is actually 9 and a half, thank you very much.
over the last year, i have watched my firstborn gift transform into an amazing child, and it charms me, breaks my heart and bolsters me all within the amount of time it takes me to blink.
he is stunningly charming. his heart is truly so big i question how it fits nestled behind his ribcage. he wants to make you happy, he tries so hard at most everything he does (except for picking up his room and remembering to brush his teeth without a reminder). he absolutely wants to be a friend to you. he is polite and empathetic and thoughtful. when he smiles at me, when we find some common ground upon which our shared laughter spills out and joins together, i actually do pause and try to grab whatever memory of that moment i want to have forever.
i adore this child. i know i'm not the best parent, so i'm thankful every day my husband and i and the people we surround ourselves with are helping to shape my son into whatever he's destined to become.
but right now, he is just a child. he has many paths to take before he becomes anything beyond that.
so i was saddened and repulsed when i read wednesday about children in Louisiana having sex in their classroom. left alone, no adult guidance, for 15 minutes and this is what comes to mind to bide the time? seriously?
i remember being in fifth grade. ele-freakin'-mentary school, mind you. on the rare occasions we were left alone, we had a fear of getting in trouble should chaos erupt. we knew that lurking behind a silent p.a. system perhaps tuned into our classroom or just down the hall, was the principal or another teacher willing to take us to task for so much as getting up out of our seats and writing on the chalkboard.
cripes, we may have "gone together," when we were in fifth grade, but that simply entailed one person asking if you wanted to "go with" the other and then basically continuing to ignore each other until you decided to break up. maybe - maybe - you sat next to each other at lunch, but you never, ever did so much as kiss! even kissing was a stretch!so what prompts children (children!!) who are 11 to 13 years old to have sex? in front of other children? with a freakin' lookout posted at the door?! how hypersexualized are these five children that this is the answer to "hey! what should we do now?"
my son's biggest concerns are basketball, pokemon and whether it's warm enough to ride his bike. when we've playfully asked if he has a girlfriend, he blushes, laughs a little and vehemently denies caring what girls think. the idea of even kissing a girl, he has told me from experienced culled from 9 and a half years of unadulterated boyhood, is disgusting. oh, sure, he talks to and plays with girls, but the last thing on his mind is that these girls are going to grow up and be much more interesting to him one day.
and god, when they do become so, i hope that i, my husband and everyone else who has influenced my son's life has instilled in him some thought process that you respect the other person and yourself. that you wait (i hope he waits. i can only hope and encourage him to, and speak to him sanely about the topic of sex and the ramifications it carries. it's wonderful. glorious. i'm a fan. but not when you're 11 or 13. please. please no).
so for this incident, upon whom do we slap blame? the parents? society? a k-12th grade school environment so allegedly chaotic one teacher at the school was quoted saying the students were unruly and rarely disciplined? keep in mind that faculty and students sixth grade and higher were attending an assembly explaining the aftermath of a 15 year old student in the same building stabbing to death a fellow student over the previous weekend. does the lack of attention these five young people encountered in the classroom extend well beyond those four walls? does that have anything to contribute to what happened?
what part of their lives is missing and what is filling in the gaps? are children - emphasis on children - supposed to grow up so fast now that this is what they perceive to be the norm?
as a parent who just this past month allowed my oldest to be at home by himself for periods of time no longer than 45 minutes (within which there would be at least two telephone calls to check on him and which he answered only after verifying the numbers on the caller i.d. screen matched either my or my husband's cell phones), i hope not. i thought i wasn't ready for him to grow up simply because it was admitting my son, this first stab i took at parenting, was moving away from me. now i'm not so sure if i want him growing up in a world where these kinds of things take place. sure, i know bad, unsavory things happen outside of my house, but this type of news just makes me feel sad and uncomfortable at the thought of letting the one i've worked so hard to protect out there.
or maybe i'm just naive.