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Continuing from this post, what, then, should we tell our kids about sex? If I am not for the preaching of abstinence, am I for encouragement of promiscuity? Viewing the issue as one or the other is a straw man. Here’s a thought:
Teach children in plain terms what biologically is involved in sex. Teach them also about the physical risks attached. Teach them that there is a huge emotional implication, too, for which you need to be ready. Sex is a serious thing, and should not be engaged in lightly, but it’s also not serious, and fun is part of a successful sexual relationship. I don’t think it’s for teenagers, but I know still-married-after-decades couples who started having sex in their teens. I think it’s for adults, but I know there are adults who are not really mature enough to deal with it. It’s not a one-size-fits-all thing.
An exercise the Pure in Heart team engage in was described: they asked for volunteers to come forward. Two of them are sticky-taped together at the wrists. The tape is then ripped off one of them, and reattached to another. This process is repeated, to show how a number of sex partners diminishes the power of a sexual relationship, the same way the sticky tape loses its stick.
I’ll say only this: nobody but an idiot or a virgin who has no fecking idea what they’re talking about can ever cheapen an extremely complicated issue that way. The idea is that if you have numerous sexual partners over time you become used up, sucked out, worthless. How dare you saddle any other human being with that conviction about themselves. I wish with all my heart that I can inflict even a portion of the pain this bullshit causes on those trumpeting it. Of course many of these idiots will then protest that the crumpled, used-up sticky tape they say you are, can be totally renewed. That requires belief in magic, and you are spreading your lies to kids who don’t all believe in magic.
Yesterday I listened to an item (starts at 17.12, but you can click on View Items on This Show and select Pure in Heart) which had been on the radio here, dealing with a Catholic group that is allowed into schools to take care of sex education. Parents got (imo rightfully) upset when their kids were told such things as masturbation leads to depression, and that contraception = abortion. A number of pupils walked out of the talk. I have loads of problems with what this group does, and I would be enraged if they were invited into any of my children’s schools. The problem which I want to highlight, though, is the concept of “purity”.
The term “staying pure”, especially “staying pure until marriage” is often used to describe abstinence from sex outside of marriage. The implication has been pointed out ad infinitum: those who choose to engage in sex outside of marriage therefore are impure, dirty, spoiled. Sex is an impure activity, this view tells you, and I’m sorry, but that is sick and wrong. However, the implication goes further: you remain pure until marriage. Then you become impure, soiled, dirtied. But hey, it’s all right, children! For some bizarre reason you now don’t have to feel sex is dirty and wrong any more.
Really, people? You think you’re going to drill it into someone’s skull that sex is filthy and impure for years – the most vulnerable, impressionable years – then flick some switch and turn all that indoctrination off in the space of a single ceremony?
A good while ago my youngest forgot his house key when he went to school, and had to wait a while at our door for one of us to come home and unlock. Our house is right beside his school so the kids leaving for home were streaming past. When a fellow student saw him there, he asked Nic whether this was his home. When my fella confirmed that yes, it was, the fellow student replied: “Ha ha, you’re poor!”
Nic didn’t tell me about it straight away. He’s like me, needs time to digest stuff that happened before he can decide how to feel. As it was, he wasn’t upset, it was just… weird. What did I think?
Well, I’m afraid it’s true, our house looks shabby. The window frames, sills and electricity box all need painting, it’s single panes rather than double glazing, and a few other signs point to the conclusion that we’re not exactly the Gates family. However, as I explained to Nic, the child’s statement was confusing, it needed clarification. What is poor?
Because while with me being a student we are indeed not rolling in money, our bicycles and cycling equipment are collectively probably worth more than a lot of people’s cars. Micky has top notch climbing equipment, a number of good quality hiking rucsacks, a good quality family tent, and a good quality two-man tent. We could have chosen to spend that money on the appearance of our house instead, but we didn’t. So are we poor compared to someone else in a fine-looking house who doesn’t own these things?
Is rich or poor what your bank balance is? We choose to remain as debt-free as possible. So another family, who chose to borrow money so as to make their house look fantastic, are they rich compared to us? Is it okay if there’s a minus in front of that bank balance, as long as it’s a lot of numbers?
Poor doesn’t even clarify whether we’re talking about money. You can have a poor life, and I most certainly don’t think we have had a poor life. Micky and I have had amazing experiences, have seen sights and sounds in our love of outdoor pursuits which most people never will. I have cycled along a quiet road with cows galloping beside me on their side of the fence. I’ve eaten a sandwich with about twenty of them staring at me (why is it that when I try to think of my most awesome cycling experiences cows come to mind?). Micky has glided up rock faces and stood on mountaintops, swum in clear lakes and seen the world from a place you can only reach through near heartbreaking effort and the sweet elation of attaining your goal. The kids are getting ever closer to having the freedom to travel as Micky and I have been privileged to do. Jonathan is about to visit South Africa, Lara has been to Ranafast twice. Is that poor?
Poor can also refer to ability. We are all above average intelligence, the children instilled with understanding that this alone will not get you places. They work hard and that hard work yields great results. This is a privilege, because there are other kids who work as hard or harder but don’t get the same yield. We are rich, blessed, privileged for the genetic lottery that has instilled in us this brain power.
We are rich in love and happiness. I am humbly grateful for a wonderful relationship with each of the children, free so far of most of the stereotypical strife between parent and teen. Is that poor?
So we had this really wonderful, thoughtful discussion of what precisely poor is, what it means, and I ended it with: “Anyway, Nic, you may be poor, but at least you’re not an arsehole.”
I think we handled the whole thing well.
Raising kids is like training someone to captain a very big boat. There’s a lot of theory to learn, as well as a lot of practical skills to master.
If you give the trainee too much control too soon, the experience will be terrifying. Insecurity abounds, manifesting in various ways depending on the personality of the trainee. At the same time you have to start letting the trainee participate in the steering of the ship in very small ways. My dad, a fount of wisdom who in addition to his dad experience also happens to hold a PhD in Education, always said to me when my own were small: no long explanations, you lose the kid after a few words. No abundance of choices, two or three at the most: too many choices make even adults unhappy. Above all, the child must know that they know that they know that you are in control. If you feel in your heart that ultimately you are not in control, they will know it, they’ll feel it, and this will not lead to a happy home.
Next the trainee must be given more and more responsibility and control as they become ready for it. Withholding control of the good ship from its rightful captain when the captain is ready for it, will result in mutiny. Understanding and communication is so vital in this stage. The rule is extremely simple and must be applied consistently: show responsibility and you’ll earn trust, the currency of freedom. This rule works both ways: the trainee must understand that to earn freedom, they must first earn trust. Trust is hard work to gather, and even harder work to regain if it is lost. The trainer at the same time must understand that they, too, earn trust, and are able to lose it. The trainee must be able to trust you to let go when they are able to take over.
Finally, while in the early years a child’s life and choices must be controlled, this control must be seen as a necessary but temporary arrangement. You must always understand that this is not your life. The control in the early years is crucial, it must be firm but flexible (and certainly not too flexible), but it is equally crucial that this control relaxes and disappears as soon as possible. Like training wheels on a bicycle, it must be there for the child’s own wellbeing at first, but it will become a liability if left on the bicycle when it is no longer needed. Once the trainee can steer the ship, the trainer becomes an advisor, who can caution, who can counsel, but who must never take control of the wheel again. Even if the captain chooses to steer the ship into waters you know will be disastrous, you may not wrest the wheel from their hands and try to steer the ship where you think it should go. The captain will never, never simply give the wheel to you, they will always fight for control, resulting in a mess of a course.
Much better to let them know you have no desire to touch the wheel, to earn that trust we spoke of so they’ll listen to your advice and value your guidance. The whole parenting relationship is, in fact, a balancing act of trust between the parent and the child, when you dig to the foundation. And if you look at the bedrock that trust rests on, you’ll find it is called respect.
Yesterday morning was glorious, with clear blue skies and sunshine pouring down over a grateful island. I had to do some running around to get a project printed and bound before going to class and was as a result only at school around 11am. It was warm enough that I had to go to the bathroom and dry my sweat-soaked shirt under the hand-dryer, making a mental note to maybe start putting short sleeves on under my jumper in the mornings.
I went to class and stayed until 1pm. I noticed it cooled down while I was in class, but I certainly did not expect what I saw when I rushed out the door: it was snowing. Heavily. As I stood there in utter astonishment, being slowly covered in heavy white flakes, all I could think was: “Go home, weather. You’re drunk.”
So this happened a few weeks ago, but everytime I pass the spot I go into cannot-process mode yet again.
A pedestrian crossing over a one-way street, the kind with a signal and a button you can press to ask for a green pedestrian signal. This one I know from experience is rather quick. Traffic here is usually slow-moving.
The what the f*** did I just see? moment:
Pedestrian approaches crossing, presses the button and waits. Approaching car sees pedestrian waiting and kindly stops to let her cross. Take note that this driver stops AT A GREEN LIGHT. Pedestrian smiles and waves a thanks, starts crossing – against the red pedestrian light. While she’s crossing, the traffic light, telling drivers what to do, goes to yellow, then red.
So what does the driver do? Why, the driver (the one who stopped at a green to let the waiting pedestrian cross against a red) now proceeds to pull away, against a red traffic light, across the pedestrian crossing showing a green for pedestrians, and drives on with a smile.
Let me just take a moment here to summarise. A driver stops at a green light to let a pedestrian cross against a red light, then drives on against a red light.
What just… did I just see… who… can we just… I can’t even… I can’t even begin to explain how badly that crashes the software of my mind.
How do people manage to do stuff like that? Can someone just explain to me? *goes to sit in corner rocking and sucking thumb*