Lines of acceptability. Wow. Talk about a can of worms.

Each of us have our own lines. I personally think children under the age of twelve should be home, safe and sound, off the streets and in their own cozy house by, let's say, hmmm, seven. My child argues that all his friends can stay out to eight. It's not that late, it's only an hour more, things aren't the same as when I was a kid (I'll say!), everyone makes fun of him because he has to go inside to Mama. Ok, you can stay out to eight, but only on weekends. A week passes. Now, his friends can stay out to eight on weekdays, school nights. It's not that late, things aren't the same as when I was a kid (unfortunately), everyone makes fun of him because he has to go inside to Mama. Here we go again. What's next? Eight thirty? Nine? Ten? Where is my line? How far is that line going to get pushed? And, where will it stop? Will it stop?

We moved into a new neighborhood and across the street is the sweetest woman, really nice, very personable, our first coffee at the kitchen table lasts all after noon. She has an infant daughter the same age as mine, but her two older sons, the same age as my son (sixish), are absolute monsters. Hell on wheels. They have already learned how to flip her off and say "F*** you!" It takes all my effort to close my mouth after picking my chin up off my chest.

We are sitting at the mall on the hottest day of the year with Baskin Robbins ice creams. Kay (names have been changed to hide the identity of the not so innocents) puts her ice cream down next to her side. Her oldest (Bob, who ended up in jail at the ripe old age of eleven for stealing his father's tools and selling them for dope) asked if he could have hers. She said no and we continued our conversation. I notice Bob quietly taking her ice cream. I interrupted Kay and silently pointed to Bob. She snatched the ice cream out of his hands, smacked his head, replaced the ice cream and continued talking. A few moments later, Bob snuck her ice cream. Again, I pointed this out to her. This time she screamed at him loudly enough to embarrass us all and repeated the smack. Bob was not deterred at all and I believe there was a third attempt. Talk about having the writing on the wall thrown in your face.

One more. This was another wake up call. We have been invited over to watch a movie at Kay's house. My children are three and nine, hers are basically of the same age. The kids are playing in the back, Kay asks me to rewind the movie while she gets all the kids inside. Instead of rewind, I accidentally hit 'play' and to my horror, watched the last few minutes of the "The Good Son" as Macaulay Culkin is being let go to drop to his death off a cliff. I was aghast, my mind whirled. This is what you wanted my children to watch? This is what you are going to allow your children to watch? Do I want to allow this? Was this just me over-reacting? Where was my line? Okay, this is waaay past my line, this just is NOT right. I calmed myself as the children rushed in, quietly told Kay that his was not a movie I wanted my children to see, co you really think this is appropriate? Her blank expression told me further discussion was useless. Taking both children firmly by the hand, I left, all the children protesting and upset. I explained to mine at home, as best I could, and sat down with them to watch a more appropriate movie, but shivered at the thought of what was going on in the living room across the street.

Lines are interesting. Heck, LIFE is interesting.

We all have our lines and obviously find ourselves relating best to others with similar lines.Our lines of acceptance and value are formed as we grow up and based on what the lines we were raised with, and not necessarily in agreement with our parent's lines. Once we flown the nest we can change our lines to fit our own life styles and beliefs if they differ from those of our parents, or keep them going if deemed fit.

One of my beloved bosses had raised his children to be rather sheltered from the real world outside our doors. When they moved to a smaller town in the midwest, I later asked his son what the biggest difference was and had to laugh at this response. He said the kids there said "Shucks!" instead of the words he was already too familiar with. What did occur to me was, if his children, raised so protectively, would be able to handle that mean nasty world out there once they were so quickly and rudely exposed to it. He did solve that particular problem by moving them to an atmosphere without the horrific events we experience here.

It did give me a new perspective on the level of exposure I wanted for my children, and did my best to make them feel safe and secure while allowing them to hear some of the local horrors or warm them of the realistic dangers existing just down the street. At sixteen, Jena is still not allowed to walk to her high school about a mile away without the company of at least two or three bruiser looking guys.

I have changed my lines from time to time. I was raised in Beaver Cleaver land, and that world is long gone. My attitudes and lines need to be adjusted. A little bit. Not a lot. Ok, you can have your belly button pierced <shiver>, BUT that is the LAST piercing until you: A. are eighteen and  B. move out of this house. I have stuck to this, but then the only piercing she has asked for since is another set on her ears, not her face, tongue or other weird body places. Still, I stand on what I set down. I don't think my line needs moving again.

Good grief, how long has she been wearing those low cut shirts? Where have I been? That line needs to come in, waaay in.  How late can you stay out? Let's discuss this one and come up with something we both agree on. If you don't like my final line, oh, well!  I used to have a drink a few times a week, maybe. When did it crawl up to one a night? Wakeup time.

Watch your lines. Where ARE they?

Written by Sharry Anne Stevens 1992, all right reserved

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