Sunday, February 14, 2010

Dancing on Dumpsters and Scary Bits

            I just had the craziest dream last night. I was a chaperone taking my two kids, now teenagers, to a teenage party. What bothered me wasn’t the sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. My kids looked at me with worried looks and I said, “I was a teenager once. I know what it’s like. Just make the right decisions.”
            The real dilemma came later when a young guy came into the restroom with a gun wanting to do someone in. I disarmed him and handcuffed him (not sure where I got the handcuffs, but hey, it’s a dream). When I told my son and his friends what had happened, they decided to let the guy go and make sure he wouldn’t do anything stupid later.
            The thing that bugged me was that this kid was volatile. Who’s to say he doesn’t keep some sort of vendetta and shoot me, or for that matter, my son, at a later date? I suddenly felt very vulnerable.
            I wonder if I had the dream because of what was happening last night. It was Chinese New Year, as well as the first night of the Olympics, being hosted right here in Vancouver. We started the evening off with a special feast at a friend’s house. When Celia got tired Michelle said, “Look, there’s so much free stuff going on tonight for the Olympics. I’ll take Celia to bed. Why don’t you go out with George?”
            Say no more! At this point I’ll take every chance I get. My favorite moment was coming across a fantastic funky band playing on the street. They were blasting the neighborhood with good grooves and had gathered a huge crowd. George and I climbed onto a dumpster and started dancing.
            Before that there was a free event behind fences and security that we wanted to get into. We saw a long line-up snaking around the fence, so we followed it to its end, only to find that there was no entry-way into the fenced area.
            As we were realizing we had no way of getting in, a couple of guys jumped the fence. I looked at George and said, “It’s now or never. Do you want to go to this show?”
            George nodded. We hopped the fence, along with an increasing assortment of people. It wasn’t until a security guard arrived that people stopped.
            As I was craning my head to watch, some young guy started pushing past saying, “Excuse me. Mind if I get through?”
            I put out my arm and shoved him back. “Yes, I do mind.”
            He looked at me stunned. He was probably around twenty, and a big guy, full of lots of energy. I looked him in the eye, “Who do you think you are, that you get to budge past all of us?”
            A younger woman spoke up next to him, “He’s my brother. Sorry about him.”
            Ah, only in Canada. Even in the craziest crowd dynamics, this country is the only one I’ve ever lived in where I’ve heard someone cutting in line apologize. I’ve heard more “Sorry’s” here in one evening that I’ll hear in a month living in the United States.
            I could see that the guy was a bit dazed, so I went on, “And if you’ll excuse me,” I pushed him aside to let George get through, “You’ve cut in front of my friend.” George scampered up next to me. I’m glad I stood my ground, because security cut off all those after us, including the young man.
            Just like my dream last night, I am reminded that young guys doing rash stuff can be volatile. It made me realize how we are releasing our children into a great big world, with relatively little protection.
            I can see why some parents get over-protective. They want to make sure their kids aren’t exposed to all the world’s messiness. I can feel the delicate balance of wanting to protect my daughter while at the same time wanting to expose her to some ugly stuff while I’m present to teach her about it. When we’re over-protective of our children at a young age, they’ll have a bigger learning curve when they’re older.
            Celia’s at an age right now where she likes to watch movies. As I sit with her and watch, I’m constantly amazed at just how many scary bits there are, especially the ones that I wouldn’t have thought were very scary, because she turns away and wants to do something else.
            I don’t want her to have nightmares, but I also know that she’s got to learn about the scary stuff at some point. If I protect her from it till she’s five, when she’s released into the first grade, then she’ll be the only girl who gets freaked out when they put on a simple Disney film.
            But for now, she’s only sixteen months, and my heart goes out to her. So I did some simple editing and snipped out all the scary scenes from her movie. I watched it over and was amazed. Although the plot is a bit confusing, and there’s no real tension anymore, the film actually works as a bunch of songs and happy interactions. Now I know she can watch it without worrying about any nightmares.
            For now, this solution makes me happy, but at some point, I do want her to become exposed. If I teach her at a young age about some of the world’s ugliness, by the time she’s a teenager and at some crazy party, she’ll have learned the lessons well and I won’t have to stay up worrying as much.
            At least, I’m optimistic about it. But my friends who have teenagers all have told me, “Raising kids, you don’t get sleep for the first few years, because they keep you up, and then you don’t sleep during the teenage years because you stay up worrying that they’re okay until they get home.”
            We’ll see. For now, I’m thankful that my daughter is sleeping through the night and that I have the chance to go out. I’ll take it one day at a time, because frankly, you never know what will happen around the corner.

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