I watched a great coming of age youth movie last night called "That's What I Am." It got me thinking about meanies and bullies and how difficult it is sometimes to deal with them growing up. I thought of all the nonsense my daughter may have to deal with and felt like I just wanted to cuddle her in my arms until she turned 21. I know that's not possible and I know I won't be able to protect her from meanies and bullies forever. But she doesn't have a voice right now and I'll be happy to step in and then talk to her about difficult situations for the time being. Take Friday for instance. We went to the park late in the afternoon. It was a lovely day. There were guys playing soccer in the field, kids all over the jungle gym, babies getting strolled in carriages and some toddlers playing with a ball in the field. My little one decided to join in on the ball fun and was tossing it back and forth with another little girl for a bit. She was taking a break and sitting just a bit away from us while watching the scenes unfolding in front of her, when out of nowhere three older boys (about 5 or 6) came out of nowhere and pointed fake hand guns to her head and started shooting. She just matter of factly looked up at them. After a minute of this they said "Aw, man! She's not dead! DIE!" and when that didn't work they crouched down in her face and yelled like zombies at the top of her lungs. She started getting scared. The bottom lip puffed out. And then the full on crying began. We walked over and as we picked her up to hug and comfort her the three boys said, "Yesssssss!!! She's crying! Hahahahahaha" to which I responded, "That's not nice. It's not nice to make someone scared or make someone cry." They walked away very proud of their accomplishment and somewhere in the background I heard a dismissive, "they're just kids."
Sure they're just kids, so go ahead and let them pretend kill a baby. Let them play Doom for hours on their game system. Let them watch CSI and reality TV- they're just kids, they don't know what they're watching. Let them hear you curse- they don't understand. Let them watch random lascivious movies and listen to nasty music- they won't get the message behind them.
Or will they?
The other day at the movies, a pre-teen in the row behind me was taking in the scene of Ryan Reynolds getting his body superheroed in tighty whities and she very loudly exclaimed, "Aw, MAN! He has a small penis!" and then continued to complain about it for a few minutes. I doubt she was old enough to even know what to do with it.
I understand everyone is where they're at and everyone has a right to raise their children as they see fit. But there is HAVING a child and there is RAISING a child. They're not "just kids". They're smarter than all of us and absorb every. single. thing. We can fill them with wisdom, love, compassion and make them a beautiful addition to our world or we can recycle ages of crap and neuroses with them.