Saturday, March 11, 2006

Throwing cold water on wet T-shirts

Yesterday morning the "Today" show was teasing a story about the things young women in college and high school are doing on their spring vacations. I had to leave for work, so I didn't get to see the whole segment, but they were talking about things like spring breakers having multiple sex partners, drinking and drug use.

My reaction to the segment, or what I saw of it anyway, caught me by surprise.

Ordinarily, I would expect myself to want to see such a segment for the titillation factor. As an unmarried man, I've been known to want to see the sights and sounds of girls going wild and wondering why I never made a classic spring break trip myself back in my college days to see if women really do the kinds of things you hear about on those late-night infomercials.

But that wasn't my reaction to the segment at all. My reaction was: How the hell do I prevent my daughter from ever taking one of those spring break trips?

I realize that my daughter, who will soon be turning 15, will do some things that I might not be able to prevent her from doing, some of the very things I myself did in high school and college. I would certainly not make anyone's list of wildest youths, but I certainly did some thing in my teens and early 20s that I don't relish my daughter trying: drinking, smoking, sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll. OK, so she can do the rock 'n' roll, as long as the lyrics are clean. Why is it on most of the filthiest songs, most of the lyrics are unintelligible to anyone over the age of 25, but the singers enunciate quite clearly when they say "fuck" and other terms of profanity?

But I digress.

I guess I just want to protect my not-so-little girl, but realize as an absentee parent that I can't be there nearly enough to help her make good choice or deflect the pain that may come her way from such youthful experimentation. And the reality is that I won't be the first call she makes if she finds herself in trouble. Odds are slim I'll even be able to be there to hold her when she gets her heart broken, or suffers some other indignity or indiscretion, to be able to hold her and tell her that things will be OK and that love her, no matter what.

Of course I wouldn't mind having someone do that for me right now either. Now that I've realized that my primal motivation has shifted from fantasizing about seeing a wet T-shirt contest to living in terror that my daughter would ever be at, or in, one.

1 comment:

GRT said...


(Where do I get the temerity to offer a suggestion?)

From my experience working with high school students, they were more willing to listen to older people who spoke to them as adults, rather than as "daughters" and "sons." (I haven't the foggiest notion how that is done by parents!)

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