Sunday, September 25, 2016

Praying I'll Get This Right

There's a new documentary on Netflix called "Audrie and Daisy".  I love a good documentary, so I was delighted to be able to watch it tonight while I did the ironing (got some housework done this weekend!).  The internet even cooperated, which was a rare treat.

The story is about young girls who have been sexually assaulted by young men, mostly after becoming highly intoxicated.  One victim actually committed suicide.  Simply horrific and as a mom, impossible to imagine.

It's a tough world we live in now, run by the internet and social media.  It even rules our presidential elections.  It's a world we middle-aged parents can't possibly understand completely, and therefore it can be highly challenging to navigate with our kids.  I for one am terrified.  I'm raising two men.  Right now they are 13 and 14, one in his last year of middle school and one in his first year of high school.  The girls in this documentary were their ages.  13.  14.  My God.

When I was in 8th grade I had very few friends.  The way I communicated with them in school was to pass creatively folded notes that we had written on with an actual pen.  A colorful, glittery pen, maybe, but that was the most advanced technology we had.  One time a kid asked me if I wanted a joint on my way into school.  I ran away in tears.  I knew NOBODY who drank or did drugs.  A few smoked cigarettes, but I thought they were sort of scary and besides, they seemed to just do it to scare people like me.  I had a couple friends who had kissed, but it was closed mouth usually, and if there was tongue it was a big darn deal.  My biggest worries were wondering if I would ever grow boobs and wishing I had a boy to hold hands with in the hall.  With interlocking fingers.  You know, the cool way.  I'm sure some darker stuff was going on somewhere, but I promise you, it was not all that common.  Parties were still where you go to a friend's house, sleepover, eat popcorn and watch R rated horror movies and then have trouble sleeping because you're afraid someone will put your hand in warm water so you'll pee after you fall asleep.

Worrying that boys might draw obscene things on my genitals with sharpies after they sexually assault me while I'm passed out drunk was not something I could have even imagined.

But alas, here we are.  This is happening.  And I think it happens more often than we want to know.  Every single thing about it terrifies me.  The raping of these young girls is horrific.  And so is the drinking, drugging, and the posting all the evidence on social media.  The ghoulish bullying.  I can't even comprehend it, much less know how to avoid it.

So both the boys wandered in and out of the living room tonight while I was watching.  I paused the show and talked to them both individually about it.  The highschooler actually watched quite a bit of it with me first.  I told them that I certainly hope they would never consider asking a girl to text them a naked photo of herself.  They don't even have smartphones (yet) so it's not that big of a worry, but the highschooler is getting one for his birthday next month so this is sort of timely.  Now my boys have never had a girlfriend.  I know they have buddies who sort of have, but really, it's been very short and very innocent.  For now, they both seem mystified and a bit frightened of the fairer sex.  Which is fine by me.  But we talked about how these girls had their lives ruined after one night of some bad decision making, and how devastating the whole thing is.  How important it is to respect young women, have boundaries and self control, and not do anything that you know in your gut is the wrong thing.  And if they ever see anything inappropriate to stop it and to report it, to never be passive about it, since that is as bad as participating.

I know they're good boys.  But I bet the moms of these boys on this show thought they had good boys.  This is tricky.  I want my boys to be fine men.  To love women the right way.  To protect them and shield them and make them laugh.  To kiss them when the young lady waits for them to.  I think they will be that kind of men.  I pray they will.  And I guess that's all I can do--Pray, pray, pray, and talk to them about it pretty much all the time.