I don't know what bothered me more about attending the annual PTA-sponsored movie night at my kid's school, the fact that my husband got out of it again, or the fact that I found myself sitting on the rowdy side of the gymnasium behind two fifth graders who were experimenting with their lips as the entire student body looked on.
At one point, the boy of the pair, a wise-cracking bully who has been on my bad side since he pushed McRae in kindergarten (I will never be over that), turned around and said to McRae, "Your girlfriend is jealous because I'm sitting with mine and you aren't sitting with her".
At what point is it appropriate for a mother to tell another person's child (and I use that term firmly, because at 10 years of age you are still a child, even if you make-out with someone) to turn around and shut up?
I did my best I'm-the-mom-and-I-don't-approve-of-what-you're-doing-or-saying look as I leaned over and told McRae "Just don't listen to him, he doesn't know what he's talking about."
But I would be lying if I didn't admit that a huge part of me wanted to pick the little squirt up by the ear and walk him over to his mother. Who was, of course, doing absolutely nothing about the spectacle that was being created.
What really bothers me about the whole thing is not the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing, surprisingly.
I had a "boyfriend" in the 4th grade and all we did was swing on the monkey bars together.
When McRae started pairing up with his "girlfriend" in the 3rd grade, I knew all about it. Of course, monthly scrapbooking with his teacher at the time also gave me an "in" into his social life, but more than that, he told me.
He told me that "girlfriend" to him, meant really good friend that's a girl.
He told me that it was the other kids at school who made more of a big deal of it than he and she did.
I was fine with it, especially since I spoke regularly (still do) to her mother and knew that there was no inappropriate behavior going on. They don't call each other. They don't have the need for cell phones, so there is no texting going on at all hours of the night. They don't "go out on dates". They are in the 5th grade, and if she wanted to come over and hang out, that'd be fine, but it hasn't happened, and that's fine too.
But the pressure that other kids bring to the table is a force to be reckoned with, and I never really thought about it until tonight and seeing just how focused they all are on what others are doing.
As the couple sat there in the brightly-lit gym, entangled in inappropriate cuddling, all eyes were on them. And I am not kidding when I say "all eyes". Kids kept coming up to them, whispering in their ears and then running off giggling. Each time they'd change positions, heads would turn. They kept going behind the folded up lunch tables with other kids and this sparked an outburst of chattiness among the 8 to 11-year old set.
The attention they were receiving was enormous.
And yet, the parental guidance was void.
My sons just rolled their eyes and shook their heads.
And in the car on the way home, I heard Wyatt say to McRae, "Do you know what I saw Josh* and Tammy* doing?"
And McRae said, "I know, you saw them kiss."
And I said, "That's disgusting!"
And they both agreed.
I just think the world is going way too fast for our kids. When are they going to be allowed to be children, if their childhood is gone in the fifth grade?
*Edited to add:
The more I think about this, the heavier it weighs on my mind.
This was a PTA-sponsored event. There were teachers there, attending with their own children, but no chaperonres to speak of. And there shouldn't have to be, other than the PTA members involved.
Because it was crystal clear in the flyer sent out that parents should plan on attending with their children, as this was Family Fun Night! It's not like we're dropping them off at a high school dance. This is elementary school, and it shouldn't even have to be clarified at this age that it is the parent's responsibility to chaperone their own kids.
Now, obviously, most level-headed parents would understand this concept, pack up their beach chairs and pillows, grab some candy out of the Halloween bowl and commit to watching a double feature in a gymnasium with their kids. Family fun, right?
But the audacity of the parents of the "couple", to just sit back and do nothing. To send a younger sibling in to break them up when the cuddling got worse - it's ridiculous!
I guess I'll have to rethink my attendence at the next PTA meeting, which I really don't want to do. I've been involved with them in the past and too many preschool board committees to shake a finger at, and for so many reasons, I choose to volunteer and involve myself at the kid's school in other ways.
And thank you -- all of you -- for your comments on this. Hearing from like-minded parents really helps and maybe I'll bring your comments to the attention of our Principal! Don't worry, I'll keep you anonymous if that were to happen.