I had a pretty sheltered childhood.

You’ve probably figured that out by now if you’ve read some of my previous posts on internet dating or teen stupidity, but I’ve got some new followers, so maybe not. (Welcome, all!) When I was a kid, I was never allowed to watch the “cool” TV shows. All my friends were watching Beverly Hills 90210, and I wasn’t allowed. All my friends were listening to rock music and watching MTV, and I wasn’t allowed. All my friends…well, you get the point. I was a good kid. I didn’t even rebel! Those were the rules, and I followed them. But it came with a price.

I remember being in fifth grade, and some boy named Ryan asked me, “Do you know what a condom is?”

And I said, “Isn’t it kind of like an apartment building?”

Oh, yes, I was a riot.

I still am somewhat sheltered, though I try to hide it. I’ll read references to something on a blog or hear something in a TV show, and I’ll look up and say to my husband, “Hon, what does ___________ mean?”

Then he’ll pause the DVR, roll his eyes (always the eye roll), and say, “Why don’t you Google it?”

Har de har har.

Some of this is my mother’s fault. She’s an awesome mom, but she did spend seven years in a convent, so she’s pretty sheltered herself. I was repeating a story the other day with a funny punch line, something about a happy ending, and she totally didn’t get it.

You try defining “happy ending” to your 67-year-old mother.

Don’t Google it.

But sometimes I wonder if the sheltered upbringing was to my benefit. If I’d been more world-savvy then, would all the Internet dating stories even exist? Or did all those experiences combine to make me the people-savvy person I am now? (I’m a pretty good judge of character, and I can smell BS a mile away.)

I know it’s impossible to turn back the clock. But now that I’m a mother, I often find myself wondering how much exposure is too much, and how much is too little. Kids are frighteningly world-savvy nowadays. Is that to their benefit? Or to their detriment?

6 thoughts on “Sheltered

  1. As a friend of mine recently said, “Since when is shelter a bad thing?” There are all kind of ugly out there that we want to protect our kids from. Sure, they have to face it themselves eventually, but I’m all for keeping them under my shanty little shelter for as long as possible. Doesn’t mean they can’t *see* the various storms from where they stand, but by the time they do have to go out in it, at least they’ll be prepared.

  2. The junior high school teacher is weighing in here to say that ignorance is not bliss. Oh, I don’t mean that you should put porn and terrorism right in the face of your 6-year-old. But a kid who knows facts is better prepared to make smart decisions than a kid who is clueless. A kid who knows how someone acts/looks when they’re drunk or high is more likely to avoid riding home with that person, and more likely to understand why joining in on mind-altering is stupid. A kid who knows what a condom is and what it’s for is less likely to be without one (now or later) when he needs it and hence less likely to have unpleasant consequences to deal with.
    Knowledge is power. To lack knowledge and know that one lacks it leads to fear, and fearful kids can make stupid decisions. Also, if correct knowledge isn’t in place, then the vacuum may be filled with fables and/or mis-heard and misunderstood info.
    I say, teach your kids about drugs, sex, con artists, and other things that might hurt them. If you don’t teach them, they might not have the right knowledge when they need it.

    And, appropriately enough, the word verification today is “rants.”

  3. Thanks for the comments, guys. APW, I’m glad you stopped by, because I was curious to hear your thoughts. I’m only 32, so it hasn’t been THAT long since middle school, but sometimes my 13 year old stepson comes home with some stories that make me wide-eyed. Like “sack-tapping.” Or hearing about kids texting each other with nude pics of themselves. What are kids thinking nowadays? I’m with you; I lean towards more information being better. But Bobbie, I also agree with you, that we don’t have to smack kids in the face with it. Informed, not overwhelmed.

  4. “Sack tapping”? Oh my. I can just GUESS what that one is…..
    Yeah, they do sext, too. One of our math teachers went in to the girls’ bathroom to wash her hands last year and caught a whole bevvy of girls in their bras taking cell phone pics to send to boys.

    Personally, if I had a teenager right now, I’d confiscate the phone and the lap top every night at bedtime. Half our kids are exhausted because they stay up until 2 or 3 on school nights texting and checking facebook. And they text each other while they’re in the shower. Egad. Honestly, they cannot wait the five minutes until they’re out.

    You’re 32, eh? Huh. I have former students who are 38 now. You’re just a kid. 😉 (Yes, I have students whose parents were my students. Sometimes it’s odd to talk to them about their kids when I can compare their kids’ behavior to their own at the same age.)

  5. My husband and I have had some heated discussions about whether the 13-year-old should be allowed to stay up late playing XBox online with his friends. On weeknights, we cut it off at 11, but on weekends, my husband has no problem letting him stay up until 3am playing — and then he’s a zombie the next day. My husband says he’s a teenager, I say he’s a YOUNG teenager, and staying up until 3am is inappropriate.

    Not to drag you into our marital bliss. 😛

    And as for sack-tapping? I only know about it because they sent a warning letter home from school. It’s where boys — FRIENDS, not bullies — think it’s funny to punch each other in the crotch when they walk past each other. Apparently one kid was sent to the hospital, so they sent a letter home to parents asking us to warn our boys that punching each other in the crotch can cause harm.

    You should have seen the red faces at the dinner table that night. I mean, seriously, how can you say, “Now, Jonathan, please don’t punch your friends in the crotch, even in a friendly way” with a straight face?

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