Friday, January 15, 2010

The Sad State of Childhood

My best friend and I often take our kids to play at the park together when the weather is nice. We have a couple of parks that are our "normal" places, but one day we went to a park I hadn't been to in a long time...

While my kids and their friends played happily on the playground and had races across the field to see who could touch the tree and make it back the fastest...I was treated to scenes right out of the Parents Handbook of Horrors.

First of all, there were 3 other children there, two boys aged 6 and 8 (yes, they told us that!) and their disinterested older sister. They arrived around the same time we did, and the two boys took up playing with our kids. I nearly fell over when the 6 year old called to my BFF Amanda's son, Thomas (also 6), "Hey Stupid Head!" and took off running. I was even more amazed that Thomas didn't blink an eye at this insult and went running off with the other boy.

When I mentioned it to Amanda, she said something to the effect of, "Its normal. Its what they hear all day at school."

Oh, homeschool, you blessed thought!

And then...oh boy then...Middle school let out.The middle school is a block away from the park, so I had the strange and disturbing experience of watching these 11-13 year olds walking home. Many of them cut across the park or even took up residence at the picnic tables surrounding the playground.These kids are just a year or two older than my oldest daughter.I was shocked by three main things, which I just have to write down.

First, of the probably 4 dozen or so of these kids that crossed our path, I'd say at least 40 of them were fat. I don't mean a little chubby or maybe haven't lost their baby fat yet, I mean FAT. I mean 200 + pounds on 12 year old kids. I was amazed. Here they came, dripping sweat from their one block walk in the cool breezy afternoon (so cool, in fact, that Amanda and I had to move out of the shade in order to warm up). I'm thinking wow. My kids walk 2 or 3 miles at a time and don't break a sweat. Amanda and I began reminiscing back to our own middle school days, and the times we ourselves had walked that same route, across the park on our way home. It was perhaps 2 miles from the school to my house, and I never once thought it was long. But these kids were dripping - literally dripping - sweat and panting from walking one block. I saw kids I could fit 3 of myself inside - 12 and 13 year old kids! And I thought to myself, you know all those people who criticize homeschool because they think the kids don't get enough physical excercise and are worried about their health and "athletic ability"? Here's a thought for them: get your own house in order before you start criticizing the messes you think MIGHT be in other people's lives.

OK, the second thing: perhaps half the kids we saw were girls. Girls. Not women. 11, 12, and 13 year old girls wearing clothes any decent hooker would blush to wear. I am serious. I know these kids have uniforms to wear to school, but man, the minutes they're off campus they change! Girls in super tight, super thin, super low-cut tops, girls who had stripped off their khakis in favor of the super short shorts underneath. And those girls worked it. They sashayed their hips and bent over at just the right times and squeezed their cleavage for all they were worth. And yes, a number of them were overweight as well, so it wasn't a pretty sight. Most of the girls, though, were the skinny ones - and I saw pretty much every inch of their skinny little bodies, because they made sure to show them! Not to mention the make-up! Yikes! And I looked at my 10 year old daughter in her t-shirt and baggy shorts, with her ponytail and her big blue eyes, and I thanked God that these were NOT the people she would be attending "middle school" with next year.

And then, third. The LANGUAGE!!! Those pre-teen kids would have put a whole ship of sailors to shame! And they were not quiet about it! And I thought, you know that kid who called Thomas a "stupid head"? That's where it starts, you go from stupid head to moron to ***hole. You go from You're not my friend to You're not cool enough to Shut the f*** up. And these kids - these KIDS - these boys and girls were plenty open with their "affections" as well - from holding hands to lip locking over the picnic table to hands in places where they didn't belong, all the way up to fights, calling each other names (I heard "whore" at least once) and screaming profane insults at each other across the playground.

This? This is the socialization I'm supposed to be worried about my kids missing?

I think I'll pass, thanks.

3 comments:

  1. "Here's a thought for them: get your own house in order before you start criticizing the messes you think MIGHT be in other people's lives."

    So you know for sure that the parents of these obese children were 110% against homeschooling because homeschooled kids don't get enough exercise? Some families can't afford to homeschool their kids, even though it is wonderful. Some of those kids' parents might be disabled from cancer (like me!) and can get less than $1000 from the government per MONTH. I read somewhere else in your blog that you paid well over twice that much for your homeschooling materials for the year. Imagine if you had about $700 to live on for a MONTH to support you, your children and possibly another adult? What if your husband got cancer suddenly and had to go on disability and you couldn't find work.

    I was an obese child growing up, and I assume you're referring to Clinton Middle School as the place where those kids were coming from. Unless they made some major changes to the school in nearly 20 years, I assume that they serve huge slices of pizza to the kids at lunch, along with fries and whole milk, all loaded in fats and carbs. Then they eliminate physical activity at lunch. So for about 8 hours per day, these kids have no physical activity. 8.5 if they're band students.

    The cheaper foods out there that these morbidly obese kids eat are high in saturated fats, carbs, and the kids probably eat this three times per day. The government hands it out to disabled, single mothers.

    In closing, I somehow don't think the parents of these kids are the ones rallying against homeschooling because they think kids who are homeschooled aren't getting enough physical fitness.

    As for the kids cussing and dressing like prostitutes, well, you're right there. That's failed parenting. :)

    ~~J-Starr

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  2. J-Starr, you'll notice I did not say it was the parents of those kids who criticized homeschooling. But when public school advocates use lack of physical activity as a criticism of homeschool (a strange choice, considering the things you yourself just mentioned -- junk food in the schools and PE and recess time being cut entirely in some schools -- while homeschoolers spend more time on the move than anyone I've ever known), THEY need to take a look in their own backyard and worry about the health of the kids in public schools before they go after homeschoolers.

    As for your comments about money, I will tell you this: when we first decided that I would stay home and homeschool our kids, my husband made $6.75 an hour. We lived, the five of us, on less htan $1000 a month for YEARS. We now live on a whopping $1400 a month. The reason we spend around $2000 a year on school supplies is because we agreed years ago to take it out of our tax return each year. The first few years of our homeschooling, we lived on library books and free print-outs. Just so you know :o)

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  3. Yikes! My comment sounds mean! I certainly didn't mean to make it sound that way!

    Before I explain, I'd like to explain that I'm anonymous because:
    1. I cannot remember my blogger password.
    2. My site is down for server issues. :(
    I'm not anonymous to bash you, and I promise when my site comes back, I'll leave a link.

    My blog is one of the reasons I found your blog; we may be neighbors. :) Without airing my laundry too much in your comments, I will say that I am the disabled mom with cancer. My kids are 5 and a pair of 2 year old twins. Mommy can't drive, she lost her car to an accident shortly after being diagnosed. Mommy doesn't think it's a good idea to let kids that age walk to the nearest park "Reed Park" alone, especially when there's a sex offender's house between our place and the park. Mommy can't walk very far without her legs going numb, or stand for long periods of time, so I have to fix cheap, sometimes unbalanced meals. My kids will probably be the fat kids at Clinton Middle school. I have to say, there are a lot of bad eggs there. When I went there about 17 years ago, there were bad eggs there. Fat kids aren't always bad eggs.

    The sad thing about disability is, I know I'm getting far more than anyone on simple welfare or even retirement. (I will never be cured from my cancer. I may not be here to see my kids make it to Clinton. I would love to find a decent homeschooling system and financial assistance or even a co-teacher to work with for when I'm on my sick days, but that just isn't happening yet.) Most of the people on social security get about $300 - $500 per MONTH. There are no income taxes because we don't pay the government any (makes sense when you think about it). That includes retirees. It seemed like since you were checking off bad parenting choices (letting kids cuss, skimpy clothes), you were also blaming parents for letting their kids get fat.

    There have been countless times when people have anonymously bashed me on my site for "letting" my oldest daughter die of her illness last year. I didn't let her. She wasn't going to get well, either. It really got to me that anyone would think a sane parent would intentionally let their kids get seriously ill (with obesity or even asthma). So I apologise I gave you that impression as well.


    ~~J-Starr

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