Bali_–_Tatoo_(2691500755)Weeks of preparation and planning have gone into these seven days.  Countless parents and volunteers have pulled together to make it a success.  We’re in the middle of Catholic Schools Week.  To any teacher, administrator, student, or parent, it’s one of the best weeks of the year.  At our own school we have three student-led Masses as well as a talent show, scavenger hunt, parent appreciation morning, and “dress like a Saint day.” 

It’s thanks to our parents and teachers that events like this take place.  I’m constantly in awe of the devotion these families have to their children, with both their education and their spiritual lives.  I’m lucky to be surrounded by parents like me. With apologies to 80’s music fans everywhere, our children ARE the future.  The things we do with and for them today shape who they are to become. 

And so, with the inspirational Whitney Houston singing in my head, I perused the morning headlines.  Just like eating bad sushi, I never finish thinking, “I’m so glad I did that!” 

“This Disturbing Viral Video Is Infuriating Everyone Who Watches It!”  And so, with a single click, I began watching a video of a young boy, perhaps two or three.  Held down by his Spanish speaking mother, he’s screaming in pain.  And, getting his first tattoo.  Yes, you read that right.  While I’m worried about my six year old boy’s saint costume, someone claiming to be a mother is forcing her baby to get poked repeatedly with an ink-filled needle.

I tried to think of a reason why.  ANY reason.  Necessity?  Vanity?  Why on earth would a parent put a child through that kind of pain?  Why the hell would a tattoo artist agree to do the work?  Several outlets have reported the video appears to be from Cuba.  I hardly think tatted up 3 year olds is a cultural thing in Cuba.  Likely it’s a crappy parenting thing.  North Carolina idiot Odessa Clay was arrested for giving her eleven year old a tattoo in October of last year.  Her defense was the girl “wanted one.” 

Oi.

Then there’s Teen Mom star Farrah Abraham.  (Who???)  She’s apparently been waxing and plucking the eyebrows of her three year old daughter.  To, you know, avoid bullies and stuff.  Because we all know how much the other kids in daycare hate unibrows.

I sure hope Ernie goes easy on Bert.

I didn’t stop reading until I got to the story of Dominic Gaines.  This brainiac was arrested after he posted a picture of himself holding his one year old in his lap, left arm around her, right arm pointing a gun.  The best thing I can say is at least his finger wasn’t on the trigger.  What looked like a handgun was, thankfully, a bb gun.  

I’m not sure how arrest worthy it was, but it certainly gave me pause to wonder why this idiot is posing like a gangster with his child in his arms. 

Time to pull up your pants, put the toys away, and act like a dad.

How did we get here?  What exactly was our tipping point?  Eight year old girls went from playing with Barbie to shopping for padded bras and thongs.  Twelve year olds are routinely shopping at Victoria’s Secret and heading to the spa to get a microdermabrasion. 

Somewhere along the way, parents have decided to be friends instead of parents.  They treat their daughters like girlfriends.  They want to be buddies with their sons.  They play video games with them, take them to R rated movies, and give in to their every whim.  Why?  Because it’s easier, perhaps?  Because they don’t want to seem strict?  Because it’s more fun to be liked?  Or because they don’t want to alter their own lifestyle? 

We’re missing a crucial point in development.  For parents AND children.  We aren’t doing our daughters any favors by letting them look like adults.  We aren’t helping our sons by letting them play Call of Duty Three Million before they even know how to tie their shoes.  

It was a privilege to finally be allowed to wear makeup.  If I had been allowed to wear it when I was ten, I’d have had nothing to look forward to.  The same can be said for having my first drink or learning to drive or even going to my first R-rated movie.  It’s never wrong to treat our children like children.  I think we’re robbing them by skipping over those “you can do it when you’re older” moments in life. 

I’m strict, I admit it.  My fourteen year old didn’t get the smart phone she wanted for Christmas.  My ten year old isn’t allowed to chat online.  My six year old’s most violent video game is Super Mario Brothers.  No makeup, no Lady Gaga, no MTV, no Twilight under ANY circumstances.  (That last one is a gift, really).  It doesn’t make me popular.  But I celebrate the moments I hear, “but so and so’s parents let THEM….” 

Someday they’ll thank me.  Now, back to Saint Francis.

Image: Bali – Tatoo; uploaded by russavia; author: William Cho; Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license