Long, blond hair that smelled of freshly cut flowers. Brown pleated slacks and a yellow, V-neck sweater that felt like cotton balls on my fingertips. This was my first crush.
We were in the basement of friend’s house celebrating her twelfth birthday. It was a typical preteen co-ed party. The boys were huddled over the chips on one side of the room and the girls quietly chatted together on the other. I discretely eyed her from across the room. Picture an eight year old watching cartoons – that was me being covert. The birthday girl walked over and put her Cyndi Lauper cassette into the ghetto blaster, cued up Time After Time and pressed play. (There I go, dating myself again!) I don’t know who paired up with whom. All I know is that the blond haired beauty actually asked me to dance. With my heart pounding and palms sweating I wrapped my arms around her waist and we began to dance. The song ended, the party continued and we all went home. And I, being the ladies man that I was, never even found out her name. However, this mystery girl had awakened in me the feeling of desire.
And yet, it seems somewhat perverse to describe what I felt as desire. After all, I was only twelve. But then again, I was a late bloomer and I was a child of the 80’s. The biggest scandal of my primary school days was a group of us watching a couple of eighth graders making out behind the school. I was that kid in the crowd saying, “Ewwwww.” (It really isn’t surprising that I was in grade 12 before I even reached second base.)
And that’s where I really begin to show my age. Do kids today even refer to copping a feel as getting to second base? Do they even say ‘copping a feel’? I have been out of that scope of conversation for many years, and being the father of a daughter, I really don’t want to be part of it again. (I pity the first boy my daughter brings home for me to meet.) It seems to me that children nowadays are moving way too fast in terms of relationships and sexuality. Making-out and sex seem more analogous to soccer rather than baseball. There are no bases to be rounded anymore. It’s more of blocking the shots until he finally scores. (Allow me a moment to shake my head in trepidation of what is yet to come.) It is no longer eighth graders who are making out behind the school. Now it’s kids in the third and fourth grades. Why are they moving so fast?
There are many parts of society to which we can attribute the speed in which kids seem to be growing up. Movies, reality TV, newspapers, the internet and the list goes on. Unfortunately I don’t see any brakes capable of stopping this media fueled locomotive that society has allowed to get out of control. So for me, I turn to family values and a little parental control. Siaya watches very little TV and what she does watch is regulated by Rachel and I. We have taken her out of dance classes that teach moves which we feel are too old for her. We also try to ensure that she socializes with kids her own age. The most important thing we do is to talk to her as a person, listen to her thoughts and do our best to just play with her. She is more aware of the world in terms of fashion, news and even relationships than I was at her age. However, we talk about what she sees and does and we encourage her to just be a kid. I just hope that she is listening.
Time After Time youtube link: