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Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Sex, Lies, and Tap Shoes
If you weren’t already aware, I’ve been tap dancing for most of my life, and have been teaching for about seven years. This past September, I started teaching a competition class for 5-8 year olds and a regular performance class for 9-11 year olds. I teach my older girls two mornings a week.

Now I know that girls this age can be a handful. That whole pre-teen, ‘tween phase is really awkward for most as they try to figure out who they are and what they want to be, but I’m really worried about these girls. This morning, just as we were getting ready to stretch, I caught a bit of a conversation that really disturbed me.

Keisha*: “I think I’ma get up with him on Saturday”

Meija*: “You mean do it with him?”

Keisha: “Yeah” (whispered something very low—couldn’t hear it) “I know Carmen and Da’Ron did it, and she said it didn’t hurt too bad”

Meija: “Oh my God. Well I don’t know. That’s such like a crazy thing to decide. And where will you do it? And what if he tells everyone? You're gonna get called a hoe.”

Keisha: “Well you know he’s having a party or whatever on Saturday night so we’re gonna tell his mom that he’s going to my house after it and tell my pops that I’mma stay there like a sleepover. So could you act like you gonna stay there too?”

Meija: “ I dunno K. That’s real extra. I don’t like lying like that”

Keisha: “I know. But do it for me. And I know I need to get condoms. You think your brother will buy some for me if I give him the money?”

Meija: “We can talk later, ok?”

(*using their middle names*)

I managed to catch most of that exchange using the record feature on my phone, and I'm glad because I really didn't want to believe what I was hearing. I know the girls didn’t think I was listening to them so they were really candid. Normally, I would have said something or sat them down and talked to them about the decisions that they're making, but out of respect for their privacy (you know, since I was eavesdropping and all) I didn't.

I guess unlike most people, I'm not shocked by what they were talking about. Both girls are 11, so yes I'm saddened that kids that young are being faced with decisions like that and their parents either don't know or don't really give too much of a damn. If they're lucky, they might have a cool parent to help them navigate the waters of the physical manifestation of internal emotion and everything surrounding it. I'll be talking about that in another post soon.

I could sit here and blame BET, MTV, rappers, or really most any other media outlet for turning our young people into mini reflections of our larger society and its afflictions--oversexualized, undersexed, grossly misinformed, and scared. But it goes a whole lot deeper than that. What they see on TV are two-dimensional images of what goes on in reality, but when they see their parents and the other adults in their lives shamelessly participating in questionable activities, the line between media fiction and flesh-and-blood reality becomes blurred. When a parent explains away all of their own deviant behavior but is insistent about telling their child not to do the same thing, the child ends up confused and more often than not will emulate the actions of that person.

Me lamenting the fact that these girls are still babies making grown-up decisions won't change their situations. Even when they make the 'right' decisions, everyday they are still being made to choose. They're growing up entirely too fast, and I'm worried that by the time they get to be adults, they're going to be burned out. They will have had all kinds of "adult" experiences, so some may be feeling like there's nothing left for them at age 30. And I worry that these issues will have to be dealt with at younger and younger ages, almost to the point where once you leave Kindergarten, you have to make grown-folks decisions. I doubt (well, I hope anyway) it doesn't get that serious. But truth be told, in terms of what people are doing and the choices they have to make, it appears that 11 is the new 21. This is part of the why I'm afraid to have kids--too much for them to deal with too young.


Blogger Golden Silence said...

That scares me so much to hear about little girls talking about sex! It does seem that there's a jump from birth to adulthood with no childhood in between. Times have changed, and not for the better.

Blogger Ar-Jew-Tino said...

That's it. I'm never having kids.

Blogger Gunfighter said...

Trust me when I tell you that as the father of an eight year old girl, I am scared, saddened, angered, and just plain old dumbfounded by this.

I'll be praying on those kids tonight.

Blogger Victory is Mine said...

like u said the new 11 is 21 and the new 32 is 22. so there goes the prob. the kids are acting their parent "fake" age. so there are no morals, direction, or guidances. i'm a single mother. i have fun but when i'm a mom i'm a strike but understanding mom. i tell daughter everyday. mommy are here to help. whether it is good or bad. she is 5 and i tell her she has to tell me everything. i shower her with love and attention and i hate her father but i don't deny him access. i think you should let the girls know ur over heard their convo and out of concern you want to help. let them know it all confidental and that you doin out of concern. i know u don't want to get involve but damn it that's the prob no body want to day anything. we need to start talkin! good luck

Blogger Miz JJ said...

There is some parental responsibility at work here. There is no way in hell my niece who is turning 11 has enough freedom to get away with anything like that. To say I am going to just sleep somewhere and blah, blah, blah. Uh uh. As a society we need to keep a more watchful eye on our children. Man, I sound like an old woman.

Anonymous chele said...

I just want to cry. My daughter is 11 and she wants so badly to grow up before she should. On the one hand she wants to wear makeup and wear grown-folks clothes but on the other hand she still sucks her thumb and watches Nickelodeon. Their minds are not at the same level as their bodies.

This age sucks. My daughter doesn't do "sleepovers" unless I drop her off and come in and talk to the mama of the house.

Blogger Honey-Libra said...

First..I love your titles (they always seem to fit in).

Second...what the MESS?! When I was 11 I thought boys stunk and you could get pregnant from kissing more lessing touching their wewe's. It is so scary to know that they are talking so candidly about it and even know that they need condoms (if that's even the good part).

Is there some way that you can have an open discussion with the girls in your class telling them the dangers of having sex without making it known that you heard their convo...cause these girls seriously need some help..at least the other girl sounded like she wasn't down with the plan hopefully peer pressure won't crumble her.

on top of that when I was 11 my momma wouldn't let me go to no house party..WOW

Blogger Tenacious said...

what an excellent post. I dont have any sisters but I have younger cousins and many of them already have babies and they havent even graduated from high school. Kids nowadays are so much "adult-like" than when I was a kid, which hard to believe but I was a 13 year old 10 years ago! 20! at 13 I was still rocking shorts under my skirts and though kissing boys was gross....now littl girls are rocking thongs at 6 and can tell me more sexual positions than i can by 11.

And even then Mama Dukes always kept it real with me. I cant say the same for a lot of parents out here who wanna be their daughter's best friend and want to sugar coat things.

But excellent post Tasha, really got me thinking.

Blogger Tenacious said...

@ Tasha

LOL I forgot about copying lyrics down...*hangs head* I too sent little lyrics that reminded me of our relationship. Monica, Tyrese...you name it, I probably wrote about it.

Let's not get on dubbing the song from the radio and rewinding the tape a dozen times until you got the lyrics right

And girl...let me be at work and one of my colored pens disappear, it's PROBLEMS until my pen make it way back to its home. You know you have that "good" pen to write with.

Blogger BrillD said...

Wow. These are days that were
forecasted in the good book.
Kids having sex is not a new
thing, but the spike in the number
of those taking part in the act
today is specific to these times.
All we can do now is pray.

Anonymous aulelia said...

11 is the new 21 - you summarised it perfectly. this is absolutely disgusting yet a perfect jigsaw piece of how our society today is functioning. peer pressure has a lot to do with it i think especially since a girl's self esteem can be broken or made just on how she is perceived.

all we have is our reputations you know. it is a shame our younger sisters feel the need to destroy theirs.

Nice post

Blogger beautyinbaltimore said...

"It appears that 11 is the new 21."

You said it, this is one of the many reasons why I don't want children.

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