Last week I made the mistake of Facebooking my surprise at learning that the kindergartners at the elementary school across the street were participating in Red Ribbon Week, a drug awareness program.
An onslaught of opposing opinions ensued, but this one caught me off guard:
“Don’t be naïve—we live in the world. The sooner we can equip our own children and prepare them for what they may inevitably face once they leave the warmth of our homes, the better off they will be.”
Now, when I think of preparing my children for the real world, I think of grounding them in their faith, helping them fill out a job application, and teaching them how to scramble an egg. I do not think of introducing them to the idea of drugs before some of them are done sucking their thumbs.
A few years ago, as part of a class I was taking, we learned how our middle brain is our visual center. Meaning, if I say to my child, “Don’t touch that jar of mayonnaise,” a picture of a jar of mayonnaise comes to his mind and, guess what, his hand goes out to touch it.
Such knowledge makes me wonder what images are conjured during “awareness” programs like Red Ribbon Week. My mother, a former teacher, tells me that the anti-alcohol literature she was supposed to dispense to her students read like an advertisement for it: “If you try alcohol, you’ll feel silly. You might giggle a lot or say funny things.” True, but to a child’s ears, does this deter or open Pandora’s box?
In her book, The Hiding Place, Corrie Ten Boom told this story:
“And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, ‘Father, what is sexsin?’
“He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case off the floor and set it on the floor.
“‘Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?’ he said.
“I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.
“‘It’s too heavy,’ I said.
“‘Yes,’ he said, ‘and it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger, you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.’”
Contrary to the accusation of my Facebook commenter, I do have my eyes open. And that is exactly why I do not tell my 5-year-olds about sex, homosexuality, pornography, pedophiles, or drugs. I will tell my children about the ills of this sinful world when each of them is ready (as I discuss in my new book, Humpty Dumpty Just Needed a Nap: What Children’s Stories Teach Us About Life, Love, and Mothering).
In the meantime, I’ll carry that suitcase for them.