• Kanika Lal

Oh, Child


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UPDATE: I can't believe I didn't publish this post, which I wrote four months ago.

If you happen to come across this, I'd love for you to please read and reply if you're inclined to say something.

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So...

I sometimes look after my neighbor's 10-year-old son - who is far beyond his years - but I think he uses his 10 years of age to get away with things, as most charming youngsters do.

It's insane. The way he talks sometimes and the things he knows - those certainly didn't cross my mind when I was 10. At least I didn't think so. I mean, a large part of it has to do with the rise of technology and social media, obviously.

But, his knowledge of cars and how their engines work, to rapping to every single lyric to a Drake song, to playing Fortnight like he's on a mission to Mars, to commenting on how he is AWARE that he gets bullied for being "fat" or "annoying," but wants to still be himself and enjoy the beauty of youth, to teaching me about how to Tik Tok.

It's the newest craze these days, get with it, I guess.

Every time I see him, I am in awe of how fast he's growing - in his adorable belly - but also in his mindset. He's constantly learning, thriving, asking questions, getting wiser, but also starting to succumb to this "self-image" talk. Which is good in both ways.

We're talking about a kid who would beg me to take him to Carl's Jr., Panda Express, eat McDonald's with his dad, to now finally being aware of how he looks, how he wants to change his eating habits (we went to Subway instead. Progress), to getting into fitness. I mean yes! Young kids and activity are super important for releasing all their pent-up energy.

BUT, the taunts some other kids throw at him, and his need for wanting to be on Instagram, Youtube, counting likes and followers on apps he does have - that also worries me. It's already enough that in my generation there's this stigma of excitement over a double tap as if we won the lottery, but now this 10-year-old innocent kid? ...

...Who is constantly exposing himself to this different dimension of how he sees the world, instead of being excited to do homework.

I know, who am I kidding. Homework tortured me, too, and the thought of television and playing outside were so exciting.

But the difference was that I never cared - not as much at least - about my self-image. In fact, wearing a skirt to school with hairy legs because I didn't think to shave yet at my age was my THING. Until I finally told my mom, "Um, can I be a girl now!?"

Now, it's inevitable to communicate on the Internet without worrying about who's reading, watching, listening. I understand there's responsibility of outreach, but at the same time, the constant thought about others' judgement of me is FRUSTRATING AS FUCK.

I don't want G - short for the 10-year-old boy's real name - to grow up fast, to beg me to show him a nude pic of some Youtuber he likes (yes, that happened), to want an Instagram and get excited about social media likes. He's such a f*** smart, sharp and talented kid. I know how far he'll go. But, is there danger that lies ahead? Danger of the "media" - video games, social media, other kids - tormenting his mind and soul that should remain as pure as long as possible?

I know there's no away of going around this. It's where we are headed. The solution isn't to block your kids from what they will get their hands on anyways.

So what is? In this busy life we have, what can we make time for every day for our kids so there's a balance? What takes priority? Is there one way, many ways, or ?

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TBD.


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