Tuesday, February 24, 2009

"Kristy are you doing ok?"

The new Offspring song by the same title has me feeling weird inside.  The Lyrics "There's a moment in time and its stuck in my mind" ..."And I should have spoke out, and I'm so sorry now, I didn't know, cuz we were so young." Bring back so many memories of things I should have told an adult when I was a kid.

And I wonder, if I had told an adult, would they even have been interested?  There is such a fine line between being a tattle tale, and protecting your friends.  I don't know how to teach my children the difference, but I hope that I can.  I hope my children know that when somebody is hurting one of their friends, or behaving inappropriately, that they not only can talk to an adult, but SHOULD talk to an adult.

I remember in Junior High School meeting a girl who was being made fun of for being sexually active as an 8th grader.  I don't know how/what the other kids knew...it didn't make sense to me at all.  What I knew was that she had a club foot, with a terrible scar on her leg. She dressed a little too old for her age, and she seemed to be known for being "easy".  One day she confided in me that her 24 year old "boyfriend" who was a friend of the family had been making her have sex with him for over a year and that she didn't like it and she wanted to break up with him, but she didn't know how, and she was afraid he'd beat her up if she stopped sleeping with him.  I tucked this information neatly inside my head, filed it away, never told a soul.  She used the word "Boyfriend"...I didn't understand the severity of the situation, I didn't think it was my business. I thought it was for her to work out.  I explained the situation to myself as her having a different set of moral standards and that it wasn't my place to preach to her about something that was going to get her beat up.

Later, in high school I remember sitting in art class, keeping my head down, trying not to listen, and trying even harder not to see, as two students exchanged a coke kit. As in Cocaine.  One of them said to the other "Do you want this? I'm not using it anymore." and pulled out a small box which contained a mirror, a few razor blades, some tiny little straw thingys and some other paraphernalia that I wouldn't be able to identify even today.  I remember feeling shocked, and a little embarrassed that I felt shocked.  I never told a soul about that exchange. Why would I tell an adult about drug paraphernalia on campus? Wasn't it the adult's job to keep their eyes and ears open and protect US from that kind of thing?  Then there was the girl who's mom was giving her alcohol, cocaine, and marijuana.  Well, heck...if the mom's doing it with her, what the heck can I do about it?  Just different moral standards again, right? Just live and let live, right?
I knew somebody was puking up her lunch, I knew another girl was running 4 miles for every meal she ate, I knew a 16 year old sleeping with a 30 year old...supposedly she had her parent's permission. I witnessed a female teacher sit on a table, straddle a male student from behind and place her hands in his front pockets...but I guess that was ok since the same boy was supposedly sleeping with a 28 year old woman who was his mom's best friend.  (just a stud...right?) Then finally, there was the ever popular teacher/softball coach whom I witnessed toss a girl to the ground and pretend to "hump" her during practice one day.  I knew that wasn't right, but all the other girls laughed and acted like it was AOK with them.  Until one day during science class a younger girl asked me for some advice.  She had been allowed to attend a "sleepover" that this ever popular teacher hosted at his home...(I know....hellooooo!) Sometime during the evening, as she lay in her sleeping bag, he came up behind her and began to fondle her.  She asked me what she should do...that time, I knew she had to tell somebody.  And I told her so.  I don't know if she ever told or not.  I didn't tell.  But two years later he was charged with child molestation and thrown in jail.  At least that one turned out allright.

I dont know that I feel guilt about these situations, but I definitely feel a certain amount of regret.  I wish I had known that sometimes, its ok to be the "tattle-tale" and that I should ALWAYS protect my friends.  I wish I would have understood that there is a difference between living a different moral standard, and being abused by an adult. I hope my kids understand the difference.

... And I wonder about those kids I used to know, and I wonder "________ are you doing ok?"


Anonymous said...

I understand what you mean. I didn't know things this bad but there were things I knew. Things that were NOT okay. But that is definitely the trouble with teenagers. They don't have that adult perspective to really see when something essentially abusive. They think they are already "grown up." So when they see peers "in" that adult world it doesn't seem quite as severe a problem as we do when we look at these kids--our kids--and see them as little more than sweet babies.

Adults ARE supposed to be the ones watching out for this sort of thing. Because we get it. That's what makes it so sick when they become the predator.

Jillene said...

I knew bad things about friends too. And I also regret not saying anything. I guess we live and we learn and we teach our children right from wrong--the right that we know now--and hope that they do the right thing!!

Heatherlyn said...

Wow. Where did you go to school?

But I know what you are talking about. It is really difficult at that age, especially, to get involved with your peers. I think the instinct is to pretend like you have nothing to do with it and no obligation because you don't want to be involved. Even as a grown up it is uncomfortable to be involved in a bad situation. But sometimes, it is RIGHT.

There are a few times I wish I had said something myself back in high school.

Kristina P. said...

What sad, sad situations. I think I will actually bring this up with the kids I teach anger management to, tonight, and she how they would react in situations like this.

Hope you're doing well! I haven't seen your fun comments out in blog land!

I still laugh over the beaver whistle.

Lara Neves said...

I have had a lot of similar experiences in my teenagerhood, and I never told, either. I like what Mina said, lack of adult perspective.

But yes, teach your kids that it's okay to tell someone they trust. It's hard though, because they worry more about the social repercussions than they do the safety of the person involved.

AW Cake! said...

I think we all have things that we wish we would have done differently. We look back now and realise that we don't really see those people anymore, so being unpopular to help someone else out would be better than keeping our social status and staying quiet. Of course, if someone would have whispered that into my ear way back then, I'm not sure if I would have believed them...I was a pretty selfish kid for awhile. This is a great post for reflection, thanks.

MamaC said...

What a great post. And how true most of it is. If only we had the ability to go back in time and show our children the things we saw, that maybe we should've handled differently. But then again, not until you grow up and mature do you really understand sometimes the gravity of these situations.

Dawn Parsons Smith said...

What a poignant post:) I've been down this road too...wishing I would have spoken up on behalf of friends in need...As an adult, I am very vocal. I can't shut myself up! I interfere all the time! It's hard for kids to speak up...they have so much pressure, don't they? Like Kristina P, I think I will broach this topic with the Youth Group I am mentoring this weekend. Thanks for the inspiration!

Just SO said...

I had some things happen to me that I never told a soul about until I was older. I knew of other girls who had the same thing happen and they never told either. It was a different time and hindsight is 20/20, isn't it. I too hope that my kids know that it's okay to tell no matter what.

Goob said...

We have a rule that children are not allowed to keep secrets for adults. EVER. And that if they are asked to keep a secret, they are to tell immediately. We try very hard to distinguish between "secrets" and "surprises"...it sometimes backfires.