Teaching preschool 5 days a week, I will admit that I'm pretty sheltered from the crazy, scary place that we live in. True, I do see the school-aged daycare kids (through 6th grade) on a daily basis, and yes, I will admit that they are much more brazen that I ever was at that age (I think they're more brazen than I am even now - more on that in a second). But, the true dose of reality comes when I go to school functions with G from time-to-time. It never ceases to amaze me how kids are so ready to grow up so quickly, and how many parents allow (or in some cases seem to actually foster) that kind of behavior.
This past weekend's function was a 6th grade activity night. That means that for 2 hours, we were chaperoning a couple hundred tweens while they played putt-putt golf, basketball, volleyball, bingo, and dancing. I'm sure in your mind, you're turning the pages back to your middle school/junior high dances where the girls stood along one wall in a little circle and the boys dismally looked across at the girls, mustering up the courage to ask one of them to dance. Finally, when one of them did get the nerve to ask, their dancing was rigid and impersonal, at best, with the obligatory full arms-length between he and his partner.
Well NOT.ANY.MORE! I could NOT get over these kids! First of all, many of them walked through the door with a $20 bill in one pocket (for $.25-$1 snacks, mind you, their admittance had already been paid) and a cell-phone in the other...SIXTH GRADERS! The girls wore shorts so short, I was beginning to wonder if they had anything on underneath...really. And the dancing...oh gosh, the dancing.
Before I tell you about the dancing, I should first note that we have activity nights all throughout the year for the kids (usually 3-4 per year). The first two this year have been FINE where the dancing is concerned. The kids don't really know each other too well and they haven't been exposed to that kind of dancing...that is until they attend school-wide functions (we don't chaperone those) where they see the 7th and 8th graders dancing inappropriately (without any teachers telling them to stop...) and "learn" that it's ok.
Fast forward a couple of months to now...they know each other really well, some of them have become boyfriend/girlfriend and their hormones are raging (happens EVERY spring!) and the dancing starts to get out of control. At times during the dance, we discovered (when kids looked over their shoulders from within the circle to whisper *PSST! There's a teacher coming!*) that taller/bigger boys (many bigger than little old 5'0", 100lb me) would form a circle around a group of boys and girls so that they could dance inappropriately behind the human shield. I physically walked right through the middle of the circle and told them that they needed to spread out. Less than 20 minutes later, I had to tap a miniature womanizer on the shoulder to tell him "We don't dance like that here" as he was literally all over some girl from behind as he was dancing. It really disgusted me.
There were a couple of teachers there with me that either didn't see it or didn't say anything, but all I kept thinking was, if that were my innocent little daughter out there being danced on like that, I would hope that someone responsible would be willing to put a stop to it. Of course, I have a feeling that my daughter (if she's anything like me) would have been uncomfortable/terrified at that age if a boy danced on her like that. It really does scare me how society (read: parents) can encourage this type of behavior at such a young age. I don't know about you, but I know when my little one(s) finally come along, I will be trying to slow down the growing up process...not speed it up!
It's times like these when I think maybe I'm not cut out for parenting in the type of world that we live in. Maybe God made me infertile so that I wouldn't have to deal with the pain of watching a child grow up too fast. Or maybe God knows that I'm not strong enough to raise a child who won't give in to the pressures of today's culture. Or maybe it's just that God wanted to give G & I some extra time to really take in what it will mean to be good parents in today's day & age...I like to think it's the latter.