I knew this day would come. Of course. Any teenage girl will want to go to the mall and hang out with friends. I get it, I was once young and carefree like my Thinker is.
But, I will also admit, her recent request to do this exact thing had my head spinning in a hundred different directions. I felt like little Regan in the Exorcist.
Thinker is twelve.
Twelve years old. Is this even a teen-ager yet? Over the years, we have worked to keep our kids protected from the many outside influences that can have negative effects on them. I rarely bring my kids to the mall, even with me. It only took one incident to convince me to wait a few more years. And it was when my girls pointed to a Victoria Secret life sized poster of a model, and whispered to me, “Mom, that girl has no clothes on!”
Or was it when we passed by that Halloween store, with the goolish ghost face that gave my littlest one nightmares for three days.
Or was it the many times, I overheard loud voices swearing and cursing inside those mall doors.
In any event – I had learned my lesson, this was no place to have my children. If I needed something in the mall, I had plenty of opportunities to go by myself and get what I needed and get out.
Now, I hear your thoughts – ‘can’t protect them forever’. I know. I do know this. But when do we let the world pour in? At what age are they ready to see and hear all these negative messages out there?
Is twelve old enough? Is 14? 16? Tell me.
I am a strong supporter of giving my kids the tools they need to survive the world and all its inconsistencies, but how many years is enough training in the tools?
Not only am I a mother concerned about the consumerism and materialism that malls promote, in light of recent tragic events across our country, what is next? From a classroom to the movie theatre to the mall, next? I hear your thoughts again – ‘can’t keep them in a protective bubble’. Yes, I agree. I can’t, so you see my struggle.
My question is this. Is a 12 year old girl with a small group of other 12 year olds, going to be aware of her surroundings to the point of seeing if something is out of sort? To detect the ‘uh-oh’ feeling in case of emergency? Is she trained in knowing how to act, just in case? Have I prepared her for the world to rush in, the influences of strangers, and how to manage difficult situations?
She isn't ready. I can tell.
As a mother, I do believe in our 6th sense on things, a feeling, a gut instinct. And I relied on it this time too. I denied her request. Through her tears, she muttered that she will be the only one of her friends to not attend this outing.
Talk about pulling the heart strings.
And dear God, please let what I said be true, “Honey, there will be many times that you might be the only one to do the right thing. And you still must do the right thing. And this time, it’s trusting your mother. God entrusted this job to me, to care for you. I will not let Him down, and one day, you will see that I didn’t let you down either.”
And as she begged me to consult her father for confirmation, I assured her, he would agree with me on this one. I just know it. I did discuss this outing with my Hero Husband, and thankfully, we are united on this front. 12 is just too young.
Tomorrow brings another day. While it’s cold and snowing in the Midwest, I pray tonight for strength, courage and a kind of motherly warmth that only I can bring this young, young lady. I, pray, too that God prepares me to form her in the tools and training that are required to not only live in our world, but to thrive in it.