I just finished reading Rebecca Stead’s wonderful article on tweens in Time Out New York (thanks to educating alice for the link). This was thought-provoking and sobering reading. It would be wonderful if all parents could read it and consider what they can do to protect their child’s childhood. Reading this article was good timing for me, since I’ve been thinking these past few days about this very subject, of kids behaving as “wannabe adolescents,” years before entering their teens. This year I teach 9-year-olds. There is a child in one of my classes who has read all of the books in the Twilight series and is in the process of rereading them (yes, all the way through book four with the wild sex / monster parasitic vampire fetus / abortion debate etc. etc…).
When I was 9, these were my favourite books:
I know I grew up in the country, but still. Call me crazy, but I think 9 is childhood. 9 is still firmly in kid-territory. 9 is not tween or pre-teen or even close-to-teen. 9 is not the time for sparkly vampires and their abs-of-steel and frosty kisses. Is it not possible to save something for later, even if the movie is coming out next month and the TV is telling you that all the cool kids are going? Must the answer always be yes, you can if you want to?
At this rate, pretty soon there will be kindergarteners who can say they’re in Team Edward or Team Jacob.
I think this is so, so sad. I think of my 8/9/10 year old self and I remember these years as a golden time, before I started thinking about how I measured up, how pretty I was or how popular, or whether boys thought I was worth anything. I loved the quote in Stead’s article from Susan Linn, ““Traditionally these years are a time of great intellectual and creative flowering.”
What are we doing? Is it too late?