The shackles of innocence and restraint: revised

first,
I apologize for no categorizations, I am writing from my email. i am also writing from a netbook which sometimes garbels up my lines…. My apologies. — which is one reason for the revision.
It seems like most people have a desire to rid children and those with strict morals of the shackles of innocence so that they can taste all of the bitter sweet delicacies that the “real world” has to offer. Is it that we are caught in a trap of Bigger, better and faster? Is it because we really don’t want little ones dependent on us for long? Is it because we value knowledge so much that we want our children to grow up and know as much as possible? I don’t think so because it is not just about children. While I do believe that experience is a very effective teacher; i think that many people take this a bit too far. And, i almost wonder if they don’t have a desire to “pull” others down to their state of morality. (ok, i am not trying to say this about everyone who uses alcohol or reads racey thrillers), i am just saying that there seems to be a corruptive element. Let me give you two separate situations to illustrate my point.
**Situation #1:
I am on a listserv for blind parents. We were discussing the virtues of Stephen King novels and *if* they were appropriate for 9-12 year old audiences. To my surprise, many parents agreed that they definitely “would allow their child to read a Stephen king Novel.”… … after all, “at least they are reading!” Now, I am no prude… Wait, maybe people think I am, but these books are not depicting real life. there are vivid gritty sex scenes, candid descriptions of violence and inappropriate vulgar language amd actions that I would not want my child to be exposed to at the ages of 9-12. i admit that I have a weak stomach, myself and often have nightmares if i read those thrillers with DH. (note: i try to skip over the violent parts and the sex scenes. i can’t handle violence and don’t want to feel like a voyer in someone’s bedroom). But, i have little objection if adults want to read such things(with the exception of Dh because that means that we don’t red together). my objection is with children reading these accounts. There is no overwriting “lesson” per sey, these are for “entertainment only.” Most people extol the virtues of “exposing the child to the real world,” and argue, “they are going to do it anyway, so, we might as well know about it.” Exposing them to violence and random sexual encounters at an early age does not seem to have developmental benefits for the child. What possible benefits do graphic descriptions of horrific events have for a youth who is just beginning to explore and formulate his/her own opinions on adult subjects. I have always found the argument that says “We might as well give up trying to teach our children anything because they are going to follow their peers,” problematic. If we permit such behavior, aren’t we silently (or at least tacidly) condoning it? I think it says more about people’s parenting style and maybe their willingness to be confrontational. Have we taken freedom too far? should we not be surprised when a 12-year-old girl sues her father because he punished her for posting pictures of herself and visiting what he deemed “inappropriate sites” on the internet? [i realize that this suit was in 2008 and in Canada; but you get the gist]. (Yes, this really happened ). Again, I am lamenting that I am not more tech savvy, so that I might post the exact link. Call me a “lazy poster,” but don’t accuse me of being a “lazy parent.” (smile) I had a more elloquent response in my subsequent emails, but I won’t bore you with all of the details. I do understand that others might have a different view; after all, most thought that “lolita,” by Nabokov was a masterpiece and I thought it to be a piece of crap. (and I rarely use that word, but could not find any other word without using profanity which adequately describes the book). Maybe that says something about my vocabulary, but maybe it says something about the quality of the writing… … you decide.
**Situation #2:
Last Saturday, I attended a Beepball banquet with DH. Remember Beep ball? if not, search for National Beep Ball Association. It is kind of like “Blindman’s baseball”; which Dh says is no substitute for “blind cricket,” but it is, at least “something.” We were pretty disappointed that he only played 4 innings out of 96. The other older team mates weren’t that good, they just wanted to selfishly play. Strangely enough, the coach is actually a fulltime player and regardless of his stats, he plays constantly. I am not sure how he can coach from that advantage, but I don’t want to discuss the team, right now. I would digress too far from my point.
So, I wanted to support DH and go to the banquet with him. After all, he was fasting. He gave me his ticket. In a strange turn of events, the salad did not come until 8:20 and the main dish about 10-15 mins after, so I ate half and saved half of the meal for fast breaking time: about — exactly 8:54.
the “world Series,” which is the largest tournament for the
beepballers (much like the world Series in Baseball), was held in our city. DH had the option to stay in a hotel room with two other guys. He would be installed on the pull out sofa; compliments of his low seniority. The guys were real partyers. Each night, they could not wait to end play so that they could drink large amounts of alcohol and smoke a bit of weed. DH stayed home. Honestly, that was a “no brainer.” I did not have to twist his arm. But, in at least one conversation between DH and a team mate, they commented “your wife has you on lock down.” Similarly, while we were at the banquet, a different team mate remarked that next year, DH would “have” to stay in a hotel with them because the “world series” was in a different city and state. So, they would initiate him into the ways of real partying. the team mate understood me wanting DH to stay at home this time — with the baby coming and all. But, (and especially since DH has never touched alcohol before), next year, DH would be able to experience the good life. It annoyed me that DH did not object — neither to the stereotype that had been thrust upon me, nor to the much anticipated initiation. He dismissed the comments and moved on. UGGG! Some might take that as a sign that he felt (at least a twinge of) agreement. But, DH has had ample opportunity to do these things with a college friend that he was close to. he never took his friend up on an offer of alcohol. . And,
If he wanted to stay at the hotel for the sake of “team bonding,” , I would have supported him. DH does not want to drink and he does not want to smoke weed — especially not during the time of Ramadan. Not that any team member realized or cared that this special time was even upon him. this includes his boss and a supposedly close colleague. and, he has seen his team mates get drunk and frankly, they don’t make alcohol look appealing. Furthermore, if he was going to taste alcohol, it would probably be with a friend that he trusts, not guys who partake in indulging in even more hazardous substances. I know that there are some differences, but there are some parallels to these two stories. why do people think that “exposure,” is always a good thing? why do people feel that innocence or restraint is always a bad thing? Must we think that everyone is ” just waiting” to be corrupted? If someone does not want to take part in a specific activity, why must it be that they are “controled” by someone else? Why do people automatically assume that promisscuity, alcohol, drugs and/or violence must be a significant part of the passage to adulthood? And, if someone expresses a disinterest in such activities, why must they be seen as foolish, ignorant or somehow mentally deficient? Why is it that people always want to champion for the “freedom “to *do something” but rarely support others in their decision to exercise their freedom “*not to *do it?”
And, to the Muslim women in France and Belgium, I feel you on the burqa ban.

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One Response to “The shackles of innocence and restraint: revised”

  1. Roshni Says:

    This is a very interesting topic, and you make some fascinating observations/examples in your post!
    I would agree with you, that the almost unquestioning, unlimited freedom often projected by the West can be unhelpful, however, freedom is a powerful reality which neither society seems to understand in my view. What I’m getting at here is, freedom to do something is as invaluable as having the freedom not to! E.G, if I don’t drink alcohol because some one has told me I can’t and its wrong, I may not have much conviction about keeping away from it, however if I have informed knowledge, experience and understanding, and a sound argument against alcohol, then my decision to avoid it has allot more weight behind it!
    Another point I wanted to make was related with the need to exercise freedom in order to break harmful traditions and restrictions! I.E., while many visually impaired people are held down by the stigma and confines of cultural interpretations of disability in Pakistan, your husband broke this barrier and travelled to the US. He didn’t only study, but he further defied his tradition by marrying the person he chose/loves. He might have broken a few hearts or defied his family’s wishes, but by breaking these barriers, he has established a new precedent for his family; thus creating a more cross-cultural environment and easing the way for others in his network who may wish to do the same! Sorry for going on BTW; I just think this is a really complex yet engaging area and am glad you blogged on it!
    Pray you are feeling better and the baby isn’t making you too ill these days; stay well and keep posting!

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