It is a sad sign of the times, Gentle Reader, how parents these days are going out of their way to reassure each other, and themselves, that their gentle beloved teenage daughter “does not go to parties.”
I was lunching with a casual acquaintance yesterday, and he repeated this phrase three times. Unbidden. I hadn’t asked him whether his fourteen year old goes to parties- no, merely in response to a bland inquiry “how are the kids”, he had responded, repetitively and slightly hysterically, that his daughter never goes to parties. Never ever.
Nor is he the only one. I have heard this same assurance over and over, ever since Reteah Parsons killed herself, now that I come to think of it. I wonder why?
There was a time, as Axl would say, when parents boasted of the popularity and social success of their daughter. Not too long ago either. Parents encouraged an active social life for their children.Educational and academic aspirations aside, who did not want to see their children beseiged by calls, invites, having fun and being part of a vibrant circle of friends? Not any more. “My daughter is sooo smart, she would get such good grades, if only her friends would let her study! I swear, every night, on the phone, come on out, let’s go there, here, and I think, well, they’re only young once, let them have their fun while they can…” It was a form of humble brag. We are old and uncool and parent-ish, but let our young lovely children enjoy their youth, savour the few years they have of being carefree, footloose and fancy-free. Not any more, Gentle Reader. Nowadays, parents brag the opposite: “She’s so quiet! She never goes out! Oh yes, she has a couple of close friends, and all they do is stay indoors and read! She will never get gang-raped and bullied to the point she commits suicide”. They never say the last part, of course, but it’s out there, loud and screamed.