“Those girls aren’t wearing enough clothing, are they, Daddy?”

SweatpantsMy 5-year-old daughter Sophia and I were watching “Dancing With the Stars” the other night when we had to have a little daddy-daughter discussion because most of the female dancers were practically wearing lingerie and the judges used the word “sexy” about a thousand times. So we talked about how we don’t need to say that word, how we don’t need to look that way because God cares about our hearts and doing what is right, and how wearing enough clothing is, well, rather important.

Fast forward a day… We arrived at ballet a few minutes early and the local high school dance team was finishing up their rehearsal. Most of them were wearing things high school girls wear. So Sophie leaned over to me, raised her eyebrows, pursed her lips, and with a sort of forlorn sigh of sympathy, she whispered, “Those girls aren’t wearing enough clothing, are they, Daddy?”

From the mouths of babes.

Maybe I’m just being a proud parent because she seemed to be getting it, but… It was almost like she was saying, “Those girls don’t really get it, do they?” She wasn’t just pointing out that they didn’t quite understand the rules, but she almost felt sorry for them, as if they were so obviously pining for attention and, gee, isn’t that sad?!

Y’know, like it or not, we live in a world where 5-year-old girls are being discipled to live and look like hoes. And I don’t mean the garden tool. And, while I’m not claiming Sophie can describe everything she expressed nor can she articulate so much why, she did get it enough to know that “we don’t need to do that.” At… Five. Years. Old. At 9 or 10, in this day and age, it’s too late to begin teaching her how to manage the mental gymnastics of a world that sells a pathetic substitute for the well-lived Kingdom life. Way too late.

And, while we’re at it… Regardless of how acceptable it may be for girls to wear sweats with “cute words” on their rear, it will only be over my dead body that my daughter wears clothing that encourages hormonal boys who are mental philanderers to look at her derriere. Over my dead body.

Warholism

Warhol - Campbell Soup CanI frequently check out a few trend watching websites, trendhunter.com, trendwatching.com, and springwise.com. They’re usually pretty interesting for what they say about people and their interaction with culture. One article about “Warholism” caught my eye. It notes, with the advent of blogs, myspace, and Reality TV, etc., that young people these days are growing up with what is almost an expectation of their “15 minutes of fame.” It says,

“Let’s not forget the influence of that big Warholistic [sic] giant known as MTV, which launched reality TV as we know it. This psychographic trend is really going to shape the way youth consume products, services, and many other things. While they’re still looking for inspiration from outside resources, they’re very aware of themselves and what they have the potential to do. They also feel entitled to certain things because they feel they could (or should) be famous.”

Celebrity has become an expectation, perhaps in part because they grow up being taught to care about things like the recent divorce of Britney Spears and Kevin Federline. Media coverage of celebrity weddings, births, and breakups is so big that they are learning to measure the quality of their own lives against celebrity fame, as if they should search for their entitled 15 minutes.

I sat in my favorite coffee shop yesterday, cafemojoe.com, listening to middle school kids discuss the ins and outs of celebrity couples as they read along in People Magazine. “He’s totally hot!” “She’s such a snob!”

Vapid. Annoying. Frivolous. Insidious, even. Don’t these kids have anything else to talk about other than celebrities?! We have got to give kids a higher goal than money and fame. Why aren’t holiness, commitment, and spiritual fervor lofty enough goals? They’re hard enough for me.

I don’t think I’m going to tell my kids they can become whoever or whatever they want as if by sheer effort American Idol should be their destinies. Mostly I’m going to encourage them to become who God made them to be, which, usually, is about the same as who they are. Whoever that is will be quite fine with me, thank you very much.

“Cutest Couple” Award at Local Middle School

Cutest CoupleI have it on good authority that, at our local middle school, in addition to the usual “Student of the Month” awards given, there is a “Cutest Couple” award. Each grade has its own “cutest couple” award that is apparently given monthly.

Cutest couple… Are you kidding me?! I wonder… What is the process for choosing this “award?” Are the students given a set of criteria like character, integrity, or academic achievement? Doubtful. We know how they vote. It’s worse than any popularity contest or prom queen vote, which is a dumb enough thing already. It’s called the CUTEST couple. Are you kidding me?! I recently heard a girl say she hoped she got it soon. Now that’s a goal worth aspiring to!

This is so misdirected it’s almost nefarious (a great word, by the way.) It’s one of the worst examples of educating children to hold a set of upside down priorities that I’ve ever heard. Perhaps there are some parents who have said something. I hope so. Regardless, I’m emailing the principal to ask for clarification and/or explanation. If I don’t get a decent explanation in a week or so, they’ll be receiving a letter, along with the Superintendent, Board, PTA, and our local newspaper. Absolutely appalling! Don’t kids have a hard enough time already trying to navigate the exigencies of an upside down world?! How are we supposed to educate children to be productive and intelligent members of society when our public schools are handing out “Cutest Couple” awards?! I think I’m gonna run for School Board someday. Maybe I’ll propose an “Ugly Duckling” Award. Why shouldn’t that be a priority?! Or maybe “Most Overweight?” How ‘bout “Most Socially Inept?” That’s good… “Most Socially Inept.” I’m flushed and sweaty I’m so annoyed by how silly this is. Just plain silly.

Blogging and Doddling on Pee-Chee Folders

Pee-Chee FolderFor many today, blogging is the modern equivalent of doodling during English class… Not so much Math or Science because you usually had to actually listen in those classes to ensure you didn’t have to study later. English was a doodling class because it could be fudged quite easily. I mean, really, how hard is it to come up with another phrase to replace “you can’t judge a book by its cover.” But, I digress… Blogging can too easily be just a sophisticated version of what teens into The Cure in the 80s used to do during English class, namely, draw dark and quasi-scary epithets about being morose on their Pee-Chee folders. They thought they were being profound in a very sophisticated, adult sort of way. But even then everyone knew they were playing at being adults and were acting as if their narrow breadth of experience warranted outright misery. They were misnaming their experience because, well, teenage angst in a vacuum is easy and is more fun than measured analysis.

That’s how I feel at the beginning of making public my thoughts and opinions about the world, like I’m an 80s teenager who thinks drawing skeletons and wearing black makes me meaningful. That can also be quite scary. I hope that by sheer tenacity of the discipline of regular writing I can learn to accurately express where God has led and is leading me. That is, I want to write, not as a poser who just wants to be heard, but as someone just trying to use God’s gift of communication to honestly and wantonly negotiate the vicissitudes of life. (What the heck is a vicissitude anyway?!)