What is the worst that could happen?

8 05 2008

When I was a kid, I took ballet from the time I was 2 to the time I was 11 or so. Why did I stop? Because my teacher said it was time for me to go en pointe. It was, I was more than ready.  What kept me from taking that step? My mother forbade me to. She was so afraid I’d break an ankle that she denied me the opportunity to pursue something that I loved.

Flash forward 23 or so years, and my daughter wants to get her ears pierced, but she’s scared it’ll hurt. (NB: We took her to a piercing salon and had it done with a needle, not one of those horrible guns that do mean and awful things to you.) I tell her that pain is fleeting. It comes, it goes, and it should never stand in the way of something you truly want. She gets her ears pierced, and not only doesn’t mind the pain, kinda likes it and wants more more more metal. Now, thank you.

The worst thing that can happen to your child is not that she might break an ankle or shed a tear at the piercing needle or get her heart broken or fall off the monkey bars while hanging upside down and break her arm.

No, the worst thing that can happen to your child is…nothing at all.

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Mourning a passage

12 08 2007

My daughter was five years old when Bush first won the presidency. At 12, she’s been politically aware for at least 5 years or so, capable of hearing what’s on the news and asking questions about what it means. She’s had the gamut of civics classes, she reads news online, she has a pretty darn good idea what’s going on in the world. She and I talk about issues constantly.

She’s also brilliant – a person of effortless intelligence, vision, and cleverness. She has a fantastic artistic eye. She wants to design theatre productions for a living.

Her plans? How will she enrich this country? She won’t. She cannot wait to graduate high school, leave for design school in Europe, and never come back. She refuses to have a damn thing to do with this place, ever again. And the scariest part? N’s not the only one. There are a lot of kids in her magnet program – and these are among the best and brightest kids – who feel the same. Many of her friends are also planning an exodus.

And ultimately, how can I blame her? I try to tell her that the United States used to have some measure of honor, of respect, of ethics. That the ideals we were founded upon, sullied as they are, are worth fighting for. But all she’s seen is the neocon machinations of BushRoveCheney, Inc. It’s made a 12 year old deeply cynical. Hell, it’s made a generation of kids her age deeply cynical.

The Boomers are retiring, the Gen X’ers like me are too few and too overburdened by debt and the crushing stagnation of economic growth and too downtrodden by these years of constant erosion of everything this country stands for. Who’s going to be running the show? In twenty years or so? The kids not smart enough to see which way the wind is blowing and get out. And that’s a sad, sad thought.

So thanks a lot, powers that be. Thanks a fucking lot.