Am I Dense?

photo by Jenny Levine

photo by Jenny Levine

I am no denser than the next person. I have totally absorbed that, at the tender age of sixteen, Lena should really be focusing on other subjects besides human sexuality and (God forbid) the practicum so dreaded by us older people, sex; and that I, her mother, should be seeing to that. Maybe it’s my job to provide a modern chastity belt of deterrents: I could sign her up for lots and lots of baseball and set her up with scrapbooking supplies and tutoring and book club.

The idea, “anything but sex,” has such an aura of sense about it and I would not be arguing with its merits at all, except that I’ve been raising a kid who has some power of her own, and has been using that power without my knowledge and permission to make me grow up and individuate. I can now say, after this unexpected upbringing at the hands of my daughter, that maybe her focusing on other subjects would be “better for her”; but possibly that’s just another idea unconsciously frothed into an ether, as inevitably as foam from crashing ocean waves, through adult words spoken and unspoken, through their subtle and not-so-subtle approving and disapproving, through actions and failures to act.

Growing up with this ether as a fact, I think Lena is so brave to hold onto her own sense of what would be in her own best interests and even for the greater good. She is trying so valiantly to choose a path of joy and meaning, in spite of the world at large, wise and sensible as it represents itself, being rather short on these. Hers seems a reasonable matrix from which to make significant choices.

Would it be such a better thing, really, for her to be focused on the kinds of tasks that her elders have established as the important ones for her age group? As if kids were all meant to grow up and do the same seventy or eighty jobs delineated by the categories of the Myers Briggs? Given the state into which we elders have driven this world, and our forcing of kids into a state-sanctioned direction and at a state-sanctioned time, like so many hyacinth bulbs in the wintertime, I’m not quite sure.

Given my daughter’s profound interest in all matters sexual, I can either create an environment where she can get her core wisdom about a most important life dimension from me, or I can consign her to get it from someone or something else. I know which to choose. Brothers and sisters in the conservative faith community, please hold my back as I assert my right to exercise parental guidance and authority with my daughter’s sexual upbringing. Thank you.

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