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  Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Opinion
Letters From North America
by Peary Perry


Horrors of Grandfatherhood
Peary Perry

The reason God doesnít give children to people my age is that He knew weíd probably lay them down and forget where we put them.

This past week we had our eleven-year-old grand daughter and her best friend at the house for a visit. In the six months since weíve seen her, she has grown about six inches probably as a result of some new growth hormone in the cereal they eat these days. Iím amazed at what they eatÖeverything. They are not picky at this age. They are like miniature human locusts. Everything gets devoured. I will say they are somewhat nutritional savvy and donít like fried foods, which is a big plus in my book. They do like chocolate. They really like chocolate.

So, being the good grandfather type that I am, I decide that Iíll drop in on the local bookstore and buy these girls some reading material to pass their time with us.

If you havenít done this lately, prepare yourself for a shock.

Old dumb me walks in and asks for the pre-teen section. A kindly lady escorts me over and starts to make recommendations to me. Her first is a series of some twenty-five books designed for the pre-teen girl market. I turn the first one over and read the back cover where I find that the description of the series is something akin to the TV programÖ.ĒSex and the CityĒ. I quickly put this one back on the shelf and indicate I need to look around.

I am looking for what I think are kids books, only with smaller type and fewer pictures. I find some comic books, and grab them up thinking these are so bland they should be all right. Then I stumble onto something called the young girls pre teen guide to petting. Iím thinking this is about the care and feeding of animals, you know like cats and dogsÖhorses, those kinds of pets. Nope, not so. This is a guide to the pre teen about PETTING. You knowÖ like petting. You do remember that word, donít you? I am not buying this book. I am not going to discuss this book. I am not happy this book is written, printed and published. Eleven-year-old girls do not need instructions on petting.

Or at least from me.

By this time I am breaking out in a cold sweat and want to flee from the place as quickly as possible. Then sanity sets back in, my panic subsides and I decide to look around some more and see what they might have that I could bring home without being embarrassed. Iím looking for something along the lines of ďFreda and the Magic PonyĒ but canít find anything that matches my criteria. I settle for a young girl magazine, a puzzle and some books about pioneer women. I figure stories about women in the 1800ís canít be all that bad for them to read. I donít want to bring something home in the interest of good will and have two mothers get irate with me. I need some rules and guidelines for this stuff.

When I was eleven, my major concern was how often to oil my bicycle chain and what time did we eat. Not so today. These kids are exposed to everything. I started to notice what they watched on TV at our house. Luckily, it was mainly the Disney channel and some thing called Nickelodeon. At least it wasnít Barney or those Telly Tubbie things. The TV shows seemed innocent enough and didnít concern me all that much. Since we donít watch a lot of TV at our house, it was kind of interesting to see what was of interest to girls at this age. Seemed to be a lot of talk show format type stuff, lots of jumping around with worm eating contests. I couldnít find the movie version of ďFreda and the Magic Pony.Ē

My wife had the same problem. She took the girls shopping for new bathing suits. I missed this. Iím glad. She told me she was amazed at what they picked. Iím thrilled I didnít have to go and even more thrilled I didnít see the suits. The mothers loved them and said they were all the style. Who knows? Ignorance is bliss in my book.

At times I wish I were much younger. Then again, if I was, I might have kids this age and have to go through the process of making these decisions. I would imagine itís a tough balance. How do you protect your children and yet keep them aware of what is going on in the world around them? When is the time to talk to them about such things as petting? How early do they need to know about drugs?

My heart goes out to every parent who has children in this age group or younger. I can tell you that my generation did not have adequate tools to explain the ills of society or the dangers of life in general. I think we all need classes on how to teach and how to explain the meaning of life to our children and grandchildren.

Iíd go.


© Peary Perry
Letters From North America
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com

July 14 , 2004
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