Way back when polyester bell bottoms were all the rage, and remote controls and cable TV had not been invented, I was a shy, chubby fifth grader. I got picked last for kick ball, made fun of because of my mom’s rusted out Chevy, and received a plain sandwich and water when I couldn’t afford lunch at school. I lived.
If I were a fifth grader now, the coach would divide the kids into teams to make sure no one felt ostracized. Any kid caught making fun of my mom’s car would have been given a detention and a how not to be a bully reading list. The lunch lady would have given me the same lunch that everyone else received even if I had not paid for two weeks. In short, the world has gone soft and we are creating adults who cannot deal with reality. Life has changed since the disco era. Now, there is a list of rules we must follow, especially if we have kids, so we don’t offend anyone. Here are a few examples.
INVITATIONS FOR EVERYONE – When I was in fifth grade, I was thrilled to be invited to my friend’s birthday sleep over. After opening my invitation in class, I noticed that about half of the sleepover party girls were also going to a water park with the birthday girl. I asked the birthday girl about this, and she said, “Yeah. My parents said I could only bring five people to the water park. So, you can’t go with us.” I stammered out some version of “Oh, OK” and went back to my desk. I cried when I got home, and I felt a little left out, but I got over it. She couldn’t invite ALL of her friends to the water park. That’s life.
Now, kids have to invite the WHOLE class or they are not allowed to bring invitations to school. This is so no one’s feelings are hurt, and no one feels left out. The bad thing about this is it extends into adulthood. There are now grown women who have meltdowns because they are not invited to a wedding, or party, or bunko game. Everyone thinks no one should ever be left out. That is just not realistic.
NO JUDGING – There is this huge “don’t judge anyone” commandment now, and it’s making us stupid. There are grown ups who maintain friendships with people they don’t like just to avoid the “judge” label. It’s also putting kids in danger. If your little snookums has been raised not to think of anyone as “bad” then he’s not going to see a problem with hanging with the drug dealing kid who sets toilet paper fires in middle school.
NO FIREWORKS – OK. Everyone is going to hate me for this, but I’m going to say it anyway. I am grateful for our military, and I feel horrible that some soldiers come home with PTSD. I get how fireworks can be a trigger. But, guess what? The whole world is not going to stop using fireworks because they cause anxiety for some people. Instead, the people who suffer from PTSD should make other plans. Perhaps earplugs, noise reducing headphones, or medication would help during certain holidays.
NO TRIGGERS – The other day I shared what I thought was a funny meme on Facebook. It was a blurry picture of Bill Cosby and it said, “If you see this, it’s too late.” Not five minutes later, I got a comment from someone telling me the picture is a trigger for rape survivors. She was assuming I was NOT a survivor. I told her that I was sorry and I hadn’t though of that. I was first sexually abused at age 2, but I was overpowered by my teen babysitter, not drugged. I left the meme up. If something I see online or on TV makes me think of being sexually abused as a kid, I stop looking at it or watching it. I don’t expect the world to tiptoe around my past.
POTTY MOUTH POLICE – I say fuck like most people say hello. I grew up with a mother who cursed a lot and I spent 10 years as a stand-up comedian. So, I don’t even notice when I say “bad” words. Someone always tells me, though. Look, I get that you might not what your kid to start speaking Sailor because he heard it from me, but that is YOUR responsibility, not mine. When my son was little, I had conversations with him about language that he could use in private and public words. I didn’t expect people in a public place to change their behavior for my child.
I know that it is supposed to take a village to raise a child, but it’s not a village of automatons. People come in all shapes, sizes, sexual orientations, and temperaments. The sooner kids realize that not everyone is going to ensure they live a life of cupcakes and bubble wrap, the sooner they will learn to deal with a variety of people and situations.
So, what do you think? Let me hear from you in the comment section. Are you a helicopter parent, a free-ranger, or somewhere in the middle?