08 September 2013

social security

i was in the car alone yesterday. and whenever that happens i turn the radio dial to NPR. there was a program on talking about finances. one of the subjects that was discussed was that of social security. the young paying into a fund that helps provide for the retired in our nation. the young caring for the old, the old who once cared for the young. it made my mind wander to a few days back. 

he was up early as was i. he finished his breakfast and still had 30 minutes before he needed a ride to the bus stop so i reminded him to unload the dishwasher. as he unloaded the dishwasher his older brother came in the kitchen. 

"okay, mom. i'm off." i looked at the clock. it read 6.38 am. i gasped, "why ever are you going to school THIS early?" he blushed. i looked deeply into his eyes. "why are you blushing?" he flatly replied, "i am not blushing." i reminded him of the obvious, "i can see your red cheeks you cannot." "well, there is nothing that embarrasses me." okay. who said anything about embarrassing?

he walked past me and walked back into the room. "anyway, i usually walk over to school at 6.42 because i WALK and it takes some time to get there." i just sat looking at him. he who is innocent need not defend himself is clearly not an adage of which he subscribes. i waved him off with a "have a great day at school. learn lots!" and he was out the door.

once he cleared the threshold, i asked his younger brother, "what was that all about?" the more diplomatic 12 year old speculated, "maybe he has discovered giiiiirls." i seriously doubt it. i am more concerned he is jonesing for a little free time to look about the school for hidden passages and locks that need picking than i would suspect he has began his fancy of girls. but then again, i am just his mother so what do i know.

the 12 year old was left alone with me. so i asked him, "why would you assume it was about a girl? have you discovered girls?" he sweetly confessed, "i've had my first crush. i mean i am 12 for crying out loud." that didn't seem like a reasonable argument. 12? yeah so. 

i reminded him that we know many people who have waited a long time like til the age of 19 to begin romantic entanglements. he scoffed, "i'm 12. it's time." so then i asked, "well, tell me about this first crush." and we began a 20 minute game where i guessed and he told me if i was "getting warm" as i guessed girls we know who are his age{he confessed she's his age}

needless to say, his bus came and went without me guessing which has me guessing. does he just think he ought to have had a crush as a normal boy of 12? do we put expectations on our children that don't rightly fit? 

how many times have i heard as an adult has very innocently asked one of my boys, "are there any girls you're keen on?"

assumptions can become the steering wheel of social mores. and without ever thinking or wondering if it's right, we assume that at 12 a boy should have his first crush. in some cultures a girl would be having her first child {or at the school up the street}. all because we accept this as normal. a new normal. 

i am not new normal. i am old normal. and i refuse to follow some unwritten guide book that tells me what i should or should not be doing or allowing all in the name of new normal otherwise known as relavent.

i guess i am wondering as a new mother to public school kids, why are we as a society so quick to ask our kids to grow up? push them out of the nest before they are ready? 

my 12 year old confided that a friend of his cut him out of her life when she confessed she liked him more than just friends, and he told her the feelings were not mutual. she told him he has "commitment issues". i have to ask, "what the hell is wrong with this?" a 13 year old girl telling my son who doesn't even shave to hurry up and mature. it makes me wonder, who is feeding her her lines. 

i am not the only one out there who is watching the train wreck of speeding maturity without wisdom that lands most kids in a place where they ought not to be. in the nursery. and i saw first hand recently when i had the opportunity to have lunch with 4 young girls who are still in high school and about to have babies. four dazed faces sitting around munching pizza and trying to make small talk with four adult women. it was awkward and sad. but are we calling it out? or are we somehow condoning it? watering the plants of destruction? 

somewhere along the line we have failed our kids. we have asked them to take on a mantel of responsibility that their small shoulders cannot bear. it breaks my heart. a month into having two kids in public school, and i am broken hearted. even though i thought i was living in a place where brokenness was clearly revealed, i accept now that i was living in a bubble. a nice, cozy insulated bubble. and you know what. i am glad. i am glad that for the first many years of my boys' lives they lived around wholesome, edifying and hopeful surroundings. it prepared them. it gave them a mark on the horizon. something to steady their gaze as they go out on their walkabouts. their north star if you will. because for the record i find it unacceptable that high schoolers are parents. i find it unacceptable that parents have children and then forget about them. i find it unacceptable that children ought to have any pursuits other than that of kids. junk food, riding bikes, swimming, reading, staying up too late watching cheesy movies and getting into squabbles with their siblings. 

save the romance for a time when it can be navigated with more wisdom and understanding. a larger vocabulary and perhaps a high school diploma. you think i am crazy. but i beg you to wonder what good comes from forgetting that children still deserve a childhood where mistakes are skinned knees, failing a pop quiz and sunburned faces. bodies tired from long bike rides and minds full of curiosity. have we come so far that we have essentially forgotten what childhood is?

have we forgotten that children have a good 18 years to grow and learn and prepare for adulthood? that is a rhetorical question. when i hear young teachers complain about getting sexually harassed by their 8th grade students, the answer is clear.

the caller on the radio show asked, "is social security just a farce? will there be something waiting for me when i retire in 40 years?" i can only hope. and i can only hope that the children who attend school with my boys will have a childhood waiting for them for just a little while longer. childhood, is it becoming a farce?i beg you to pursue this with me. 

grieving with hope,
xo gf

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