The awkwardness of the touch. Those first exploring caresses inching ever closer to the unknown, not knowing when, or if, they will be halted. Legs and arms intertwined, trying desperately to feel through the barrier of cloth between them. Breath hot against the skin. The intoxicating mix of fruity sweet perfume and clinging hairspray fills the nostrils. The taste of cotton candy or bubblegum lip gloss as mouths search hungrily for each other. Every move is electric, as dormant hormones begin their chaotic journey of youth. Barely blooming bodies, just now wrestling within the throes of puberty, press ever harder against each other, groping, feeling, throbbing...
Feel uncomfortable yet? I do. The uncomfortable feeling I get each time I steer the remote toward the new Disney Channel, for "tween", filled with music videos and rock star witches. The awkwardness I contend with every time I find Facebook open on the laptop, filled with people parading their children's trials and tribulations in a scary, up-to-the-minute reality show filled with teenage angst and inappropriately dressed children. The bewilderment at the gym-addicted parents incessantly striving to fit into a smaller size and recapture their youthful bodies in order to show off their wares in the schoolyard or grind along with the younger crowd at the clubs, draping themselves in muscle shirts and skirts that require a second "haircut". And the somewhat comical confusion of listening to 30 & 40-something moms gush about pasty teenage vampires as if they were trying to hold on to the last fraying threads of their middle school lives.
Do not misunderstand me, I am completely aware of the pitfalls that lie ahead for my children and I do not intend to shelter them from the realities of growing up. However, I do not intend to paste their lives on a billboard for the whole world to view. I will guide them as a parent, not as a locker room buddy. I will not actively conspire with them in the art of seduction. I will expect them to carry themselves with the respect and dignity that has been instilled in them through the years. At middle-age, I can not afford to swoon over the TV screen at a "teenage heart throb" as if I were a pimply-faced boy. What messages do we send? What examples do we set?
I know the days of innocence and modesty are behind us. And, within every Ozzie and Harriet closet there are skeletons. But we need not go galloping into hedonism or live without a modicum of modesty. Children should not be victims of body image and enslaved by flaunting, erotic fashion. They should grow into young, confident adults empowered by their own sexuality through guidance and example, not peer pressure (some pressure, of which, comes from parental friends afraid of losing the children because of much needed discipline). I would much rather grow up Brady than in Twilight.