School's out for the summer, and along with it comes out of control hormones and experimental ism. The battle between peer pressure and free will rages on. "An idle mind is the devil's playground" is a cliche I've heard more times than I care to remember around this time every year. With the reduction of funds for summer programs and limited spaces for those needing financial assistance, more kids will be forced to stay home alone or with older siblings, who in turn don't want to be relegated to babysitting all day. "Summer" jobs are a thing of the past so older teens and young college students are stuck with one another until mid-August. Oh, the joy...
Once upon a time, it was nothing for us to grab a group of friends and go swimming (weather permitting) or catch a flick at the 'discount' theater a few times a week. Hell, it was even cool to go to the public library if the mood hit you. We had things to do to keep us busy. Sadly, the Arcade has gone the way of the high top fade and boom boxes. Now everyone has their own PS3 or Wii and the same games so there's no need to even step foot outside the house; besides, it's too hot. Sleeping in has its privileges, but it gets boring after about a week, or so I'm told. Enter weed smokin' William, promiscuous Pam and Alcoholic Adam with their tales of how to 'get down' for the summer. Let's not forget George the gangbanger with his mayhem and foolishness. Big Mama and 'nem done gone on to the Great Beyond so they are no longer an option for 'keeping the kids.'
Churches used to have programs for kids during the summer, even if it was just for 2-3 days out of the week. These days, a 'free' week of VBS for 2.5 hours a day is about all you get. Most of them are run like corporations anyway, and you have to pay for every little thing (and bring your own lunch). Personally, I think they could take the monies from the building fund, the life center fund, men's day fund, womens' day fund, etc. and have enough to run a summer camp for free* as another alternative. There are a hundred churches within a 10 mile radius around these parts, so I don't think it would be a stretch. I know we're in a recession, but that hasn't stopped them from collectin' these different 'offerings' every Sunday and Wednesday in between. Donations are accepted, too.
I know some folks don't have a choice, but 'stay-at-home-for-free' sounds a lot better than $90-$125/wk per child. Unless you're saving beforehand with that specific goal in mind and depending on the number of kids, not too many of us have that kind of moolah lying around. Putting it on a credit card is out of the question. What's a parent to do? Tweens to teens are bombarded with contradictory messages of abstaining or indulging in every vice known to man from a.m. to p.m. You can't be with your child(ren) 24-7 (and who'd want to) so there has to be some communication between the two parties.
I remember Ma Dukes giving her infamous 'don't bring no babies home' speech the summer before high school. If I heard it once I heard it a thousand times. This was in the crack-killed-AppleJack-teen pregnancy-AIDS-epidemic euphoria of the mid-80's. Amid our 'whatchu talkin' bout, Ma' and 'we ain't thinkin' about no sex' denials, we never once heard "don't do drugs, don't drink alcohol, don't have sex." I guess it was implied from our Baptist upbringing not to do these things. She specifically said, 'don't bring no babies home."
So we didn't.
That didn't stop us from attending house parties where drugs and alcohol were included in the 'fun' as was sex in the 'back' room; we just didn't indulge yet. Back then a look from her was all it took; today, you need a lil' bit more reinforcement. Fast forward some 20- odd years and it's the same shyt, different day.
Should I drink? Dad comes home from work, drinks a beer, eats dinner and drinks until he passes out some nights. Mom says that's how he relaxes after a hard day's work. It's in the fridge, i.e. easy access. Screw 'do as I say not as I do'.
Should I try weed? Jeff was high at choir rehearsal last night. No one seemed to notice (or care). He didn't 'need' it; he just liked the way it made him feel, he admitted.
Should I give 'it' up? I'll get a head start on the new b****es in high school next year. Maybe the guys will pay me more attention this time. (Not the kind you want, suga).
These se.x education, and Re.d Rib.bon Week programs** (which evolved from the Say.No.to. Drugs campaign) in elementary schools are the introduction most kids get to these vices. 'I'll try anything once' and 'I get high just because' frequently lead to addiction . Whatever you're trying to escape from is still there when you come 'down' so what's the point? I'm not saying these programs aren't effective for some, but they mean little if these lessons aren't reinforced at home or somewhere else other than school. I wonder how many young people unintentionally become addicts because "there's nothing to do."
*Nothing in life is free, but there are ways to go about these things.
**If I didn't have kids I honestly wouldn't know these programs still existed.