Last week, I found myself parked in the pick- up line of the local high school. I’d gone to meet my daughter to give her some money for a baseball game. Our schedules didn’t mesh exactly and I ended up waiting for her for several minutes. I pulled up and out of the way of the parents picking up their children, put my car in park, and waited for my daughter.
While I sat there, I checked emails and Facebook and occasionally, looked around to see if my daughter was approaching. This was when my jaw dropped to the floor boards.
Sitting a mere ten feet from me was a young girl who apparently, tried to sit on a bench, but missed. Instead, she found herself seated upon the lap of a young man I can only assume was her boyfriend.
Their arms and legs were intertwined and from where I sat, it was nearly impossible to discern where one appendage began and another ended.
But wait. It gets worse.
I couldn’t see this girls face. Whyy, you ask? It was because her face was firmly in the crook of her boyfriend’s neck so she could suck on it.
Now, this was no occasional kiss or nibble. The behavior I witnessed was barely appropriate for any public setting, let alone the bench of the high school pick up line.
Let me be clear. I am not a prude. I have two children of my own, which means that if my math is correct, I’ve had sex at least twice in my life. However, I will go so far as to tell you that I’ve never had sex on a bench in a public setting or displayed any such behavior like I was seeing at that moment. Even at that young age, I knew that if my parents were to see that display, I would be, at the very least, grounded and, at the worst, beaten to within an inch of my life. Of course, in my day, a “beating” didn’t have the same connotation it has now. Back then, a “beating” meant a swift kick in the pants or something of the like. And no, I didn’t threaten my parents with calling social services, nor did my neighbors call on my behalf. I knew I’d done something wrong and was being appropriately punished. I can assure you, the offending behavior was never done after that point.
As I sat in my car staring, mouth agape, at these two kids, I tried to figure out what bothered me so. I came to realize that what was so startling to me was that not a single person stopped to stare, point, or jeer at the couple. Human nature dictates that we stop and stare at those things that are foreign and/or different to us. The only person who seemed bothered by this behavior was me! Apparently, I’m not accustomed to two people pawing at each other during high school dismissal time….yet a bunch of high-schoolers are. And what does that say about today’s youth?
What is your reaction to this? Would your reaction be any different if I told you that the child – yes, she is a child – was your daughter? Or your son?
Because let me tell you something, if it were my daughter sitting on that bench, I would have gotten out of my car so fast it would have made her head spin. Would I have embarrassed her? Absolutely. But, quite frankly, a little embarrassment when you’re doing something stupid, in my opinion, goes a long way.
Parents, take a stand. We’ve all got to have those discussions. I know they’re awkward and uncomfortable – all the more reason to have them! Tell your children in no uncertain terms that that sort of behavior is inappropriate in such a public setting!
Am I foolish enough to think it doesn’t happen? Of course not. I wasn’t born under a rock. Kids are going to do things we don’t like. They’re going to push their limits, and our buttons in the process. But here’s the issue: It’s the audacity in which the action was performed that really got to me. It was like the two kids sitting on the bench were just daring someone to come up to them and stop them.
And let me be abundantly clear on this: It’s the setting of the behavior that’s inappropriate. By this I mean that I don’t want to see anyone going at it like that on a public bench!
When did all sense of decorum leave us? Have we gotten to the point that we are so afraid of confronting an issue like this one that we just ignore it? Or have we become a group of parents who feel they can’t punish our children unless we’ve specifically laid out the “bad” behavior and the corresponding punishment? Sorry, but there is no way humanly possible for us to think of and explain every type of bad behavior our children may explore. At some point, they’ve got to think on their own and develop an innate sense for what is right and wrong. This business of laying out every consequence and not punishing behavior that we haven’t expressly forbidden has gotten out of control. Come on, parents! Let’s teach our kids the basics and then let them figure it out as they go. And this means telling them in no uncertain terms that their choice was stupid and inapprpriate if the label fits. Stop being afraid of hurting your child’s feelings; stop wanting to be their friend.
You are their parent. It’s your job to raise a fully functioning adult. One that knows it’s not in their best interest to be sucking on their boyfriend’s neck in the middle of the high school pick up line. It’s called such because it’s where the parents pick up their kids – not where the kids get to “pick up” their next conquest. Zip up your dress, folks. It’s time to be parents again.
Oh! And if anyone knows whose child I saw that day on the park bench, call her parents.
Donna Small is tha author of three novels, Just Between Friends, A Ripple in the Water, and the forthcoming Through Rose Colored Glasses. Her books can be purchased here: http://www.secondwindpublishing.com/#!donna-small/c1ewn