I’m not exactly sure how accurate it is, but there is a study that’s been floating around for about a year that declares teenage pregnancy, drinking and drug use are at an all-time low, following years of decline.
All together now, parents: Whew!
What a relief this must be to those who lie awake at night, waiting for their offspring to come home before curfew, holding collective breaths that Junior arrives in one piece, safe and sound. That the special graduation party planned for Missy won’t include a baby shower.
We’ve finally gotten through to them! Good parenting pays off in spades, can’t you see? Our responsible, moral conduct has been a highly effective role model and we can now count on kids to turn into responsible adults. Mission accomplished.
Except … except according to these findings, to you by the BBC, it seems that the leading cause of these jubilant statistics is brought … because Grayson and Madison are spending far more time online and less time physically hanging out with their friends.
“I’ll take it!” I can hear some cry with some validation. “If it keeps my kid sober and without a baby on board, I’m all for it!”
Now, your Aunty Pam never spawned and has no offspring. And frankly, I think tipping me for what I’ve spared all of you is highly appropriate, even if it’s just 10 percent of your annual income. But it seems to me that if this is true, then this is a very sad commentary on society.
Yes, kids can get into trouble when they hang out. That’s the whole point of hanging out. But isn’t it also fitting in with your tribe and making fun of your parents, sharing secrets and dares that create memories that’ll last a lifetime?
When my mother was in her mid-80s, she used to write regularly to her childhood friend, back in England, that schoolmates had dubbed her ‘heavenly twin,’ because they did everything together. And when she died, my mother sighed and said, “That’s the last person who shared all my childhood memories.”
Honestly, I can recall as many childhood antics, perhaps more, than through my adulthood. Without the internet, we were meeting up with other kids in the neighborhood, looking for the front yard that had half a dozen bikes ditched in the grass, signaling that particular house was the day’s hangout (“Kewl! They’ve got a rec room and everything!”). Those of us in that rural area who were lucky enough to keep a horse or pony in the backyard met up on the trails in nearby woods, or rode all the way down to the Chattahoochee River, playing “chicken” on horseback and knocking each other off our mounts as we cantered, convulsed with laughter, along the sandy track that bordered the banks. Did we sneak cigarettes? Yep. Beer? Sure, but it tasted awful. Who’d drink that when there’s a cold Coke in the fridge? Did we toilet paper the Thompson’s house? I’m afraid I’ll have to refer you to my attorney for comment on that one ...
The point is, those memories for me, and for you, that make us wail with laughter when we catch up with friends from our childhood are sacred. Precious. And while it’s overwhelmingly a good thing that teen pregnancies and alcohol use have steadily declined over the last decade, the thought of shared sun-drenched afternoons with your BFFs, making both mischief and mayhem, becoming basically non-existent outside structured play dates and soccer practice, well, sort of breaks my heart a little.
Funny … I didn’t realize then, as I cycled four miles in the swampy heat of July to get an ice cold Yoo Hoo at Perkins, or hung onto a rope swing too long and sailed into a giant oak instead of drop into the river, was a privilege. But it was.
Lordy, it was.