Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Loss of Childhood

By: L.A. Kohl
July 17, 2006
(published in the July 19, 2006 edition of "The Bullseye")
I find it so disturbing, that it’s a big reason why we homeschool our children as long as we do. It happens much too quickly from my point of view. What am I talking about? The loss of childhood.

I saw it reiterated once again last month, as I spent a couple of weeks working at youth camp. My twelve year old daughter was now old enough to go to the “older” youth camp – the one for Jr. High and High school age youth. She was excited about it, but I was rather dreading it.

The very first day, I overheard conversations from the other twelve year old girls in her cabin. Every conversation seemed to be something about “boys." At one point, I felt I could be a quiet bystander no longer. I looked at the girl that was talking about some boy, and I said, “You know, if you haven’t figured it out yet – my girls don’t do ‘boys’ very much, unless they want to go catch frogs or play pirates. We just want our girls to enjoy childhood as long as possible.”

I tried to smile and say it in a light-hearted manner, so as not to embarrass my daughter or the other girl too much; but inside my heart was aching for these very young girls who were wanting to act so “grown up." And my twelve year old, who had been looking rather lost, looked relieved, laughed, and said, “Yeah, the only boys I know very well are my cousins!”

At another point during camp, a sixth grade girl started telling me about this boy that she had “dated."(What does a date between two twelve year olds look like, I couldn’t help wondering?) Perhaps she was just making up stories to try and impress me with how grown up she really was – but she picked the wrong person to try and impress.

“You are too young to be dating,” I told her, before she had hardly even finished her sentence.

“That’s what someone else said, too,” she lamented, “but I don’t understand why they think that.”

I didn’t hesitate to tell her why I thought it. I don’t go into “lecture” mode very often with anyone other than my own children, but I couldn’t help myself this time.

“Because you are only twelve years old,” I began, “and before you know it, you’ll be an adult. You only have a tiny amount of time to be a child; you have the rest of your life to be an adult. You shouldn’t try to grow up so fast – enjoy being a child while you can.”

She walked away, and I suspect that what I said went in one ear and out the other, but I couldn’t help saying it anyway.

I wish I could have brought that whole cabin full of twelve-year-old girls home with us after camp…away from all boys. I wish my girls could of shared their dress up clothes with them (they get great deals on old formals at garage sales,) and then hosted a tea party for them. I wish they could have went out to the lake in the paddle boat, and let my girls “accidentally” push them out in the water in their old clothes – not having to worry about if some boy noticed that they had their stylish bikini on or not. I wish they could have come and strapped on some plastic swords and tri-corner hats, and created some swash-buckling adventure with the video camera. I wish they could have come and stood around the piano, while my daughter tried to plunk out some old Disney movie songs while they all sang their lungs out.

Childhood is a precious, brief time in life…and I wish our society wasn’t so consumed with trying to rob it from our children.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A Date with Dad

By: L.A. Kohl
July 6, 2006
(published in the July 12, 2006 edition of "The Bullseye")
I didn’t really have the time to honor my husband this past Father’s Day like I wanted to. We were too busy with ministry related stuff…so Father’s Day slipped by without much time or attention on my part.

Now I’d like to remedy that a little bit by bragging about what my husband is up to tonight.

It all began a few weeks ago, when Nate came to me and said, “I think I’m going to take Bethany on a date July 7 – opening day of “Pirates of the Caribbean II.”

Actually, maybe it all started much farther back than that. Our oldest daughter and one of her good friends had asked their dads to take them out to eat, rather than paying them for a cleaning job they had tackled together. So, they all got dressed up and the four of them went to a very nice restaurant to eat – a “double date” so to speak.

Thus, daughter number two has been wondering for years…when is dad going to take her and her friend, and her friend’s dad, on a double date? After all – he did it for the firstborn, so shouldn’t the second born get equal treatment?

That’s what led to Nate and I heading to the movie theater in Columbia last week. We bought four advance tickets to the 12:01 AM showing (that’s about as early on July 7th as you can get!) of POTC II. Whether it’s a good movie or not, I don’t know. But Bethany is the biggest “Capt. Jack Sparrow” fan I’ve ever met…so no matter what, she’ll think it’s awesome.

And I personally think her dad is awesome for caring about what she enjoys; being willing to sacrifice some time and money (and sleep!) in order to involve himself in her interests. As you can see by the picture, he REALLY involved himself! They were quite the pair as they left in their pirate outfits, headed to pick up her friend and her dad, so they could go eat at…Long John Silver’s, of course! And then go stand in line for an hour or two at the movie theater, so they’d be sure to get four good seats all together.

Maybe a father/daughter date is a new concept to some of you; but it’s a concept that fathers of little girls should consider. Call it a father/daughter “outing” if you prefer; what you call it doesn’t matter – but what it is matters greatly.

A teenage young lady needs to know that her dad cares about her; that her father thinks she is valuable, precious and worth some of his time. If she doesn’t “feel” those things from her father, then she’s likely to go looking for those things from some other male figure. Unfortunately for some girls, it’s the first boy who comes along who happens to look twice at her, and the majority of the time, that boy doesn’t have her best interest at heart.

Anyway – enough with the psychology stuff. That wasn’t the point of this article. The point was this: I have some very blessed and self-confident daughters who have one of the most awesome dads in the whole world!

Of course, that’s just my own personal “view” – but it’s a view worth bragging about once in awhile. Thanks Nate, for making time for your girls.