Days Gone By by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp
Here in the suburbs of Denver, the school year is almost over. My daughter is finishing up her 4th grade year, and I am in a funk. I long for the days of Kindergarten, when she was just getting started, coming home with torn pages of artwork and writing, a skinned knee from recess, or repeating a story her teacher Mrs. Hardy had told them. These days, the discussion at the dinner table turns to tween drama, and who did this, or that, and was it right or wrong. Clifford, the Big Red Dog, where are you now?
I am proud of my girl. I have raised a polite and respectful daughter. Her teachers have all commented (especially lately) about how she does her best to stay out of the drama that goes on each day in the classroom and on the playground. She and I are both worn out, however, from it all. Hello summer vacation!
My goal has always been to protect her childhood, and keep her in the age she is, rather than expose her to things for older girls. As you can imagine, or are already experiencing, this is nearly impossible. This week the school held a spirit night at a local roller skating rink. Many kids are simply dropped off, without a parent even setting foot into the rink to look around. The rink is owned by a local family who have good values and have kept their business going when things like roller skating, along with bowling, have nearly gone away. Kids are pretty safe there, but they are also unsupervised. The employees are typically 15-17 years old themselves, and not concerned about what might be inappropriate. And on this night, I witnessed plenty of what is inappropriate!
A girl, 10, from my daughter’s class, was one of those dropped off. She met up with a boy from our school and one grade ahead of her. They were getting way too friendly, and I could not ignore it any longer. My “Mom” hat went on and I told them that she was not allowed to sit on his lap! Yes, these are 10 & 11 year olds. Way too close. Way too intimate. Way too many hormones. And no one around to stop it. Lots of adults noticing, but no one getting involved. Except me.
So I told them to stop, move apart, make some space. They did. For 5 minutes. I shot them disapproving looks. They giggled. But it kept on. And I realized that they were beyond the point of feeling embarrassed or ashamed, and were not worried about getting into any trouble. They do this every Friday. One more night wouldn’t make any difference. This beautiful, funny, talented girl of 10 years old is out of my grasp, out of anyone’s grasp. She has chosen her path, or rather it has been chosen for her, by the adults in her family that turn away from her and let her drift away.
I think about this girl often. I’m sad to know how lost she is. I’m thankful to be present in my own daughter’s life, even if it is going by too fast. This summer we are going to do all kinds of little girl stuff, because I can see it might be my last chance.