Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Growing Too Soon

Children often grow up sooner than would want them to. As a parent the best I can do is to offer the support  J needs, instead of allowing her to stumble along with ill-formed ideas she gathers from her surrounding unprepared to accept and process them. I have written about J's fan-ship of the President from back in the pre-election days. So when a kid in her class, said that to J that President thought it was okay to kill babies - she came home sad and bewildered. She asked me anxiously "Mommy, is that really true ?"

I was not ready for this and had no idea where to begin. Talking about birds and bees is one thing but to explain the arguments for and against abortion to a young third grader is quite another. I asked J to give me some time to explain the background around what her friend had told her, so she could arrive at an independent conclusion. Help came to me in the form of a book - 33 things every girl should know about women's history. I had J read the chapter titled Body Politics by Anastasia Higginbotham from it. The author provides a succinct primer on the pro-life vs pro-choice debate along with historical context.

After J was done reading, we talked about what she had understood (or not) and it became a lot easier for me to translate what she had heard from her friend into something that was factual and coherent. But for the book, I would have been hard pressed to figure out where and how to begin talking to an eight year old about a subject I had not been planning on discussing with her in a long time. 

Real life unfortunately does not allow a parent the luxury of having a timetable and being able to follow it - disruptions are more rule than exception. This incident is a lesson for me as a parent and I would do well find the help I need (and ahead of time) to keep up with a generation that is growing up a little too soon relative to my sense of time at least.

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