This has been my day to think about the difficulties kids have navigating from children to adults. Elcie will be 13 on Thursday and Rochelle just turned 11. Both are developing quickly and both are already obsessing over their appearance. I reassure them as much as I can but what do I know. Even little Rebecca looks in the mirror and shakes her head and frowns.
They are bombarded with images of perfection. T.V., magazines, movies, the cookie cutter women are everywhere. All artificial, all perfect. We read about anorexia, bulemia, drugs, self-mutilation, and, in extreme cases, suicide. It isn't easy being a teenager.
Next I was reading a post on Blogging Baby about bullies. The writer was focusing on racism but she could as easily been talking about the way kids treat any child who is "different". No kid wants to be different and even the most innocent remark can send an already troubled child over the edge.
I went on to a post about the cutthroat competition in New York City for admission to the very best pre-schools. These are 3 year olds we're talking about. If they don't start from the cradle, they're doomed. All their lives they can live with the knowledge that they weren't quite good enough.
I had stored all this away in the back of my mind until I was checking other blogs earlier tonight and ran into Barbie. My gals have never been Barbie fans. They decapitated their Barbies when they were younger and never bothered with the costumes or accessories. Turns out that's not as unusual as I thought but it wasn't what grabbed my attention.
Julian at "Out of the Blue" printed a poem about a teenager who took a bully's words to heart. I don't remember ever reading a more searing indictment of the search for the perfect face, perfect hair, perfect body. Oh, to look like Barbie or the latest Hollywood sensation.
I'm not on a destroy Barbie campaign. Millions of little girls have loved their Barbies, outgrown them, and moved on and to blame one doll for the problems facing teens today is far too simplistic. It's much more than that.
The poem was the extra little push that led me to write about kids. I've been thinking about it for a couple of hours, changed my mind at least 3 or 4 times, and finally decided to write it down. It's a side of me you don't usually see.
To me, my girls are perfect as they are. To them, as they look in the mirror, they see something else. I don't know how to combat the pressure to conform as they get older. I can only hope that some of what I've tried to teach them about real values will stay with them.
Tomorrow will be a better day and I promise I won't do this often.
Good night my friends who live in my computer.