...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

'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.


Blogger Nature Girl said...

I think as parents, we're all a little naive. We can hope and pray our kids are listening to us and even believe in our heart of hearts that they are, but those outside influences are sometimes even stronger than we give them credit for. Mine are 18 & 15, and it scares the everloving crap out of me to think about the world they live in. I try so hard not to turn a blind eye to it and be naive about it and I try to strike up conversations with them, no matter how uncomfortable for me they often are, but the fact never escapes me that my son is now one year older than his father was when I got pregnant and we got married. (I was hitting publish on the post as you were commenting on my previous one) It's a scary scary thought, but dang, at least we waited till highschool! I can't even imagine elementary school. That freaks me out. It sounds like you're doing a wonderful job with your son. He sounds a lot like my youngest boy, a real sweetheart.
What a great post. Scary, but great.
Ps. will you have a beer with me, yes or no, circle it

Friday, April 06, 2007 12:56:00 AM  
Blogger Nanette said...

That is so heartbreaking.

When I read such stories, locking my babies up until they are 25 doesn't seem like such a bad idea.

I just hope for your sake, and mine, that good parenting will sink in. (This probably isn't the best time to mention that during jr. high/high school the nastiest girl I knew was the daughter of a bishop--you never know what goes on behind closed doors though. So, I guess the perfect religious family on the outside could have really been warped on the inside.)

Ah, you've frightened me. I'm off to work in my laboratory--I must find a way to keep them little forever!


Friday, April 06, 2007 3:05:00 AM  
Blogger The Savage said...

Well ya done good with him it seems...

Friday, April 06, 2007 6:49:00 AM  
Blogger Chrissy said...

Sounds like you are doing great so far!

I think that the fact that you posted this and you worry about it already shows that you are ahead of the game. I believe that it's the parents who don't care, who turn a blind eye to all that is going on out there, and don't get totally involved in their children's lives that are going to have the problems most of the time. You can't lock them up and shield them from everything. They need to know what kind of crazy stuff goes on in the world, and know the consequences of some of that stuff. After that you just hope and pray that everything you've taught them sticks, and that when they are faced with a situation they decide to make the right choices.

Friday, April 06, 2007 7:56:00 AM  
Blogger Rug's Bug said...

I too read that newspaper article with horror. My boys are 9 (and not quite the half, thank you very much). I'm so freaked out about the world they live in that I had to think about whether or not I was going to let them go to an sleepover/birthday party this weekend. How am I going to be when they want to start going out on dates? Completely psycho, I'm sure.
I am reassured that your boy only thinks about basketball and Pokemon. Mine only think about Pokemon and their Gameboys. No girls for now. Thank god.

Friday, April 06, 2007 8:08:00 AM  
Blogger Kelly said...

These stories are so horrifying and shocking -- how can any kids ever come to this? What is going wrong? My kids are a lot younger than yours, but I share your fears for them and the world they're growing up in. And in my case, I have a few extra years to figure out how to freeze them in time. :)

Friday, April 06, 2007 8:14:00 AM  
Blogger FindingHeart said...

First of all, thanks for dropping by. Come on back anytime. :)

I've spent time posting (for my own clarity) about children and sex from my teacher perspective. I've been dumbfounded by what my old students have told me after then got to high school. Girls going oral in the boys bathroom for $1 between classes. High school parties where, at the end of the night, girls can't find where they left their clothes. Elementary honors students who have no college hopes because they are trying to make the relationship with the father of their babIES work and live on their own. Honors students leaving university after 1 year because of a heroin addiction. IT KILLS ME!

And I go back to the first of your post. My son is the purest, lovingest, honest-est :), and greatest kid in the world. Is he going to face all of that?

As parents, we go forth into the night with our eyes wide and our hearts open. We do our best and we learn. Good luck!

Friday, April 06, 2007 9:00:00 AM  
Blogger Recovering Soul said...

Oops, I've been so busy this week that I have missed two posts already. And in 5 minutes I get to go discipline an employee, I love my job.

Anyway, as a new parent I can say that I am already thinking about these issues regularly. Sex at that age wasn't even something I really knew about, let alone would have dared to attempt. Is it society? Is it parents? Is it potentially a lack of discipline that has created this environment?

The teacher was hardly gone and the students did it. Maybe if the students were a bit more respectful of their teachers because the teachers had some discipline authority they wouldn't feel like they could get away with everything.

I am not a fan of parents who discipline out of anger, but I am also not afraid to give my kid a swat on the behind once in awhile if nothing else seems to get his attention.

Friday, April 06, 2007 9:58:00 AM  
Blogger FTN said...

Geez, thanks so much for *depressing* me today.

It's silly to "blame" someone. But I think schools are kept from "parenting" kids (teaching values, decision making, etc), and yet way too many parents send the kids off to school, expecting the schools to do just that. Parent. They just don't have the time, or want to make the effort, so they expect the schools to do it.

I like the idea of home schooling more and more every day.

I was planning on sending one of my kids to kindergarten this fall, but perhaps I should rethink that... If you'll excuse me, I'm now off to make sure my kids remain 5 and 3 forever.

Friday, April 06, 2007 10:20:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your son and my son sound a lot a like and the thought of what happened in that classroom sickens me to know end. Having to deal with the pain and consequences of a child having sex at age 17 (seeing your baby have to learn tough lessons is murder) I can't imagine the ramifications for these poor kids and what makes that even possible. Parenting is a scary world and as much as we want to protect them from everything we know we can't. we just have to do our best and give them the best chance that we can to make the right choices.


Friday, April 06, 2007 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Therese in Heaven said...

Well, you've voiced the fears of an awful lot of parents.

I think the biggest part of the problem is a disconnect between what is taught at home and what is taught at school. You can teach your kids all kinds of stuff, but if it isn't reinforced by the teachers, students, movies, music, etc. who is going to win out?

The flip side that is in private schools, is many parents hope the school will iron out their kids' problems so that they don't have to do it themselves. The children are taught religion (depending of the school, of course), values, and ethics in the classroom, but then when they are home can do whatever they want.

In both situations, one set of values is being undermined by the permissiveness of the other. And I know I am speaking in very generalities here.

I don't know a perfect solution. We may end up homeschooling our kids, but I can't say for sure.

In the end, all we can do is teach them the values and lessons we've learned, protect them without "sheltering them" (which is not always easy for a parent to figure out which is which), pray for their well being constantly, and put them in God's hands.

There is nothing scarier than being a parent.

Friday, April 06, 2007 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger Therese in Heaven said...

"very [large] generalities."

Friday, April 06, 2007 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too read this a day or two ago and was completely disgusted and shocked. I don't have kids but hope to in the near future, and it gives me two feelings. One, of fear of bringing children into a world that things like this happen in. But secondly, a resolve to do it better and with all the love and nurturing my husband and I can find.

It's a scary world, that parenting one.

Friday, April 06, 2007 12:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can only imagine what things must go through the head of a parent after reading that. Your level-headed and and a hip Mum imho, I'm sure you'll do what's best for your little lad.

Sunday, April 08, 2007 5:24:00 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I was the same way in school - Hell, I was completely stupid about sex until it actually HAPPENED (too young, of course) and that was at 15. I cannot imagine what kind of lives those kids live day to day that this was the standard.. and in front of others! OMG. It's sickening and yes, I DO blame their parents. If they're not intuned to what they're doing, they sure as hell should be!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007 5:53:00 PM  

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