Stop Clowning Around

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Lilian, my soon-to-be teenage granddaughter, is spending the weekend with us. Her mom is out of town and she wanted to come to Camp Gram. By default, she also gets time with me as well. A little over a week ago, she sent me a text message asking that I add a couple of students to the church’s prayer list. An eighth grader at her school had just been diagnosed with stage-four stomach cancer. The other student was in ICU following an injury sustained at a high school football game. It adds a whole new dimension to the importance of the caution, “Don’t butt heads”. Fortunately, the football player is now as good as new and doing well.

 

At some level, Lilan’s recognition of the importance of prayer gives me some level of hope for the future generation. I still remember my first year in junior high school. You can describe it anyway you want, but in a perfect world I’d opt to skip over what is referred to today as middle school. There isn’t a nice way to say it, “Being thirteen years-old is awkward.”

 

For one thing, the opportunity to spend time with friends and facilitate some kind of lower level dependency on parents is always high on a thirteen year olds list of things they dream about accomplishing. Generally the thirteen year olds parents have a very different mindset of how much supervision is needed. At any rate, it can be the basis for family conflict and the thought, “Where did this kid come from?”

 

I probably shouldn’t use the word pretentious in describing my granddaughter’s experience in a favored school district. Prior to school starting, the General went shopping with her for school clothes. In addition, she needed supplies for…are you ready for this? She needed wallpaper and a chandelier to use in decorating her locker at school. Reportedly, no self-respecting thirteen-year-old girl would fit in if her school locker didn’t have pizzazz. I guess now days the kids are watching HGTV. However, I’ve not seen any postings related to decorating school lockers.

 

I’m not going to play the “kids have it too easy today” card, because I don’t really think they do. However, their problems are very different from the kinds of problems we had as kids. For one thing, they all have backpacks to lug their books around. In contrast, we carried our books stacked under our arms.  Actually, I’m not sure what the backpacks are intended to carry.  Text books have become a thing of the past and everything you need to know you can access online.

 

Somehow, until recently, I’ve managed to miss the latest threat or craze associated to the clowns. According to my granddaughter, school officials at her school have made expectations clear to students. “Stop Clowning Around” is my take on the communication; however, they expressed it in different words.

 

I was in Houston week before last and one of the high schools in Houston had been put on lockdown from a suspected threat in the neighborhood. Apparently, the threatening comments and inappropriate postings on social media related to clowns whose intent it is to promote harm has gotten totally out of hand nationwide.

 

When I was a kid, we didn’t have social media. Actually, when I was in my forties, we didn’t have social media. Every kid today is innately equipped to have access to a thousand and one thing. Unfortunately, some of those things  are not in their best interest.

 

When you throw in the concept of school bullying, social media makes it all too convenient to make disparaging comments.  Student’s lives or their perception of life has been destroyed by hurtful and harmful things posted on social media.

 

I recently talked with an administrator in a quasi-treatment related facility for youth. I asked about the primary problem associated with most requests for placement. His answer caught me totally off-guard. He said, “The number one reason that parents are requesting placement of their adolescent age children relates to an addiction to pornography”.

 

Wow! It defies explanation. Talk about a heightened level of anguish for all concerned. To some extent, these are not kids from hard places. They are kids of privilege and high achievement, but they’ve gotten in way over their heads and their addiction is replacing sound judgment. Of course, when it comes to social media, there are no family secrets.

 

When my granddaughter was sharing with me her take on the great clown pandemic, she didn’t see it as a real threat. She said, “Kids are foolishly posting stuff on the internet that is going to get them suspended from school. We don’t really think there are a host of clowns going around the country kidnapping students.

 

It actually sounds like Halloween has come early. People dressed as clowns and carrying chainsaws have to be flirting with disaster. There is no way that is going to result in anything associated to good.

 

All My Best!

Don

 

 

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