The Tunnel At The End of the Light

You’ve probably all seen it…the little girl playing in her yard in pink sweatpants with the “Juicy” symbol stamped across her barely eight-year-old hiney.  The boy skateboarding down the sidewalk with his pack of cigarettes in one hand, and his action figure in the other.  Girls who haven’t even met Aunt Flo yet, giggling together about which American Idol fella they’d most like to see in his birthday suit.   Kidicide.  The rampant death and destruction of childhood, so that we can market adult products, music, and entertainment to younger and younger consumers. 

Yep, that’s right kids. It’s time for the first ever Topsy-Techie soapbox post. Goodness knows it doesn’t often happen that I have something of actual substance to share, so sit up in your chair, and push up your bifocals!  Meaningful content may only cross my path about as often as Halley’s comet, so please – – take notes.  I may need them later if I ever have to prove in court that I was of a “sound mind” at some point in my life.

As a youth director for my church, I have become more aware of the differences in how children and teens are maturing, compared with my generation twenty-odd years ago.  The clothing they wear, the music they listen to, the movies they watch, and the video games they buy never cease to amaze me with their adult content.  In my era, it was catwomanuncool not to own Nike tennis shoes or Izod shirts.  Today’s youth can commit social suicide by not owning M-rated games, or not knowing the ins and outs of Kama Sutra.  Seven year olds know curse words I was still figuring out in high school.  Even the dolls are different now.  I’m so afraid that next Christmas, our little niece will be desperate for S&M  Barbie, complete with whip and stirrups. 

This whole issue has been brought home to me this week.  Because of homeschooling, we have been so fortunate to ensure our boys a full childhood.  Without the constant peer pressure to mature quickly, they have been able to stop and smell the playdough a little longer than they normally would.  They have enjoyed “kid” movies, tv shows, and games for far more years than their friends have been able to.  They have belly laughed at jokes their peers would roll their eyes about. But I can see the tunnel at the end of the light, I’m afraid. 

Their blissful ignorance of all things “mature” is starting to fade.  H-T, our perpetual child, went out to play yesterday, plastic swords and imagination at the ready.  Pretend play has always been his lifeline to sanity.  When he sees a movie, he goes and acts it out.  When he reads a book, he immediately becomes the protagonist.  Even video games are not immune to his make believe antics.  But not five minutes after heading outside to play, H-T was back in the door.  After questioning him about his quick return, he explained that the neighbors were in their yard, and he didn’t want them to see him play.  “What do you mean?” I asked, “Why would they care?”  “Because they would think I’m too old to pretend,” he responded.

So THAT’S where I lost my childhood!!  I’ve been looking for it everywhere…under logs, behind bushes, in creeks and streams.  And all this time it was in the opinions of other people!!  The same people who tell my kids that they should let their pants droop down below their underwear, and put foreign objects through their nipples, and use language that would make Chris Rock cringe. These are the ones who get to decide when my son is too old to pretend??!! 

I tried to convince H-T that our neighbors (who raise chickens on our busy city street) probably wouldn’t even give him a second look if he were slaying dragons from the apple tree out back, but he was not buying.  He’s already been sullied by the masses.  A victim of the premature aging crisis.  Kidicide.  There may not be enough Spongebob Squarepants episodes in the world to return him to his former innocence.  Makes me wanna kick somebody.  Anybody know where I can find the idiot who decided to print “Juicy” on little girls backsides??