The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Learning to Cross the Street

So I’m just saying:

Would you refuse to teach your child how to cross the street alone?

I mean, it’s a scary, dangerous thing, right? There are all these cars going too fast not paying attention to your sweet, innocent kid. There are drunk drivers and rage drivers and all those fucking idiots texting while they’re driving, just itching to mow your defenseless kid down in the road. All of these are extremely valid reasons to just keep your kid out of the goddamn street when you’re not there to protect her.

You could tell your kid she’ll be a better person if she just chooses not to cross the street alone. You could tell him waiting an undefined period of time until a moment in the distant future to cross the street alone is just the way it’s supposed to be, for magical, diaphanous reasons he shouldn’t question. It might keep him safe.

But the problem is, you know at some point, your kid is going to be walking down the street without you and there’s going to be a goddamn carnival right across the road. It’s going to have rides and games and food that smells so good, right there in front of her. Right there across the street.

At that moment, your kid (because he’s smart, you know he is) will think through the warnings you’ve given him about the crazy drivers and he’ll glance around, not seeing any scary traffic. And then he’ll wonder about this idea of him being a better person and the magical reasons he’s not supposed to question. He’ll think to himself, All of these other people cross the street alone all the time. Are they all bad people? They don’t seem like bad people. My parents cross the street alone and nothing has happened to them. I bet they didn’t wait until that unspecified time in the distant future to cross the street alone when they were kids. None of this makes sense. They just don’t trust me.

And then your son or daughter will take a deep breath and dash out into the street. She won’t look both ways and cross in a crosswalk with a light that says it’s a safe time for her to cross. She won’t have known all of this would dramatically increase her chances of getting across the street safely and without harm, because you’ve just always told her not to do it.

There’s a possibility the very first time your kid runs out into traffic he’ll be hit by a driver who turned the corner and didn’t see him coming, or maybe even just have a very close call that will leave him shaking and regretful. But it’s more likely that she will sprint across and arrive at the other side totally unscathed, validated in her decision to just do it.

So now, you’ve got a kid who is regularly crossing the street by herself in an unsafe manner because she doesn’t even know exactly how to do it, how easy it is and how much it will reduce the risk to her own health and safety. Eventually your kid is going to get hurt. At the very least, she’s going to spend the rest of her life associating crossing the street with guilt about how it makes her less of a good person in some way she doesn’t totally understand.

And it would be your fault, for not giving your kid the proper information about how to cross the street, simply because you couldn’t get over the idea that even if it was done perfectly, properly and conscientiously, crossing the street alone still carries a risk to your child.

The point is, you teach your kid to cross the street, right? Because crossing the road isn’t some kind of moral choice as much as it is a skill that needs to be learned and understood. Everyone eventually crosses the road.

So, why (WHY) would we have abstinence classes in the schools? Who thinks this makes sense and how did he get to be in charge? 


13 Responses to Learning to Cross the Street

  1. Yep. That’s all, just yep.


  2. non sequitur…

  3. I could kiss you right on the mouth for this and I don’t even have a kid. It’s just that important.

  4. Abstinence shouldn’t be discounted as an option. I don’t think we should teach our children that an abstinence only lifestyle is the only way, but it shouldn’t be discounted just because it’s not “realistic” to some. I’ve never taken an abstinence class, but I would hope they’re teaching how to deal with the pressure to have sex and that it’s ok to wait.

  5. I taught abstinence with explanation of why it’s a good thing until a certain age or they were mature enough to really understand and handle the emotions and consequences of their actions. Why WOULDN’T we teach the benefits of abstinence along with the other sex education tools for those that just can’t say no? Let’s not make our kids think they HAVE to be sexually active. Common sense people, common sense.

  6. As someone who remained abstinent until I was married at age 22, I feel semi qualifies to weigh in here.

    I was never taught that abstinence was a choice. It wasn’t presented to me as such. Sex was not talked about openly in my household. However, I knew where the condoms were and that I was free to take them if I wished, no questions asked. I also was offered birth control repeatedly throughout high school and college, again with a no questions aske policy. I feel like I had a lot of knowledge and a lot of options available. And as such, felt free to stick with remaining abstinent. I have no idea if I would have truly stuck with it had my opportunities been different in high school. But I do know that having all of the choices available to me made me feel like it was a CHOICE I was making rather than an enforced ideal that I might rebel against.

  7. And eventually most of us will drive a car but we do not learn how to do that until the appropriate tima and age in our life, until then we are taught to not drive. hmmmmm

    • But no one denies the existence of cars. And no one forbids you to ride in one before you can drive. And passengers get to observe first hand how cars operate safely. So, unless you’re suggesting that parents allow thir kids to observe them having safe sex before trying it themselves, your analogy fails.

  8. I think it’s a good analogy.

  9. I don’t even know why the choice is what’s being taught. Shouldn’t we be approaching this from a sciencey point of view? You know, this is how bodies work, this is how bodies change as children become adults, they is WHY those changes happen, because this is how babies are made. Rather than focusing on whether or not to have sex and when it’s appropriate (because that issue really should be left to parents), I think schools should be teaching kids how to deal with all the sex-adjacent stuff they will need to navigate, like periods and wet dreams and all the awkwardness that comes with being a person. We’re spending so much time on this morally charged issue that we’re failing our children in some pretty basic areas.

    …says the rather Christian, abstinent-till-marriage, former 8th grade teacher who actually had 14-year-old students who asked her if the mother of twins would have two belly buttons. Oy.

  10. Health classes in public schools is one thing, but public schools should not be responsible for teaching the moral aspects of sex education. In private schools the parents can decide what they want the school to teach and pay for it to be taught.

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