Last night I dropped two of my children off at basketball. My kind parents agreed to watch the game and drive the kids home afterward, leaving me free to drive my third child to his ice hockey practice. Once he was on the ice, I had an hour to myself to work on reading for my book club which would meet in less than 48 hours. Unfortunately, the book, Barry Unsworth's Land of Marvels, set in Iraq just before the outbreak of World War I, is not holding my interest. Truth be told, it never even caught my interest. So I told myself I would read just a little of Newsweek magazine and then right back to the book. Mistake!
The first article I read, "The Curse of Cursive" by Jessica Bennett, scared me. I was scared my fourth grade son would find it. Bennett argues in favor of letting penmanship, cursive writing, joined up letters, script, whatever you call it, die out. In this modern world of computers and Blackberries, it has lost its purpose she argues. She cites the 2006 SAT where just 15 percent of the test takers used cursive on the written section. Clearly my son's elementary school didn't get the memo and supporting him through his penmanship homework was like the glory days of Gitmo: torture. It is crucial that he not find this article as it shoots down all of the lame arguments I used to get him to complete the assignments.
Foolishly, I left Land of Marvels in my handbag and moved onto another article, this one on "sexting." Sexting?! The title of this heart warming piece is "Teens, Nude Photos, and the Law." It's written by Dahlia Lithwick and is sure to make parents nauseous. Sexting is the name for sending a nude or semi nude photo of oneself via cell phone. Let me quote from the article here to tell you that "One teenager in five reported having sent or posted naked photos of themselves" according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. One in five! (I apologize for all of the exclamation points but Holy Christmas!) Some people argue that kids have always been this stupid and this epidemic is only occurring due to the availability of technology. I disagree. Cavegirls had the technology to paint on the walls but you don't see many cave paintings of them flashing their boobs and grabbing their crotches. Can you imagine Shirley Temple or Judy Garland pulling a Miley Cyrus? And let me tell you, back in the 80s, my girlfriends and I never went to the pool or beach without a great big butt covering Tshirt that was only removed just before going in the water and immediately replaced upon coming out. Even if, through some miracle of time travel, we had gotten hold of cell phones, MySpace accounts and Facebook pages, there was no possible way we would photograph and forward our (perceived) flawed figures, especially not to boys we liked! No, I blame the times, Bratz dolls, thong underwear sold in little girl's size 6, and those hot pink toddler sweatpants that say "Sassy" and "Flirt" across the bottom. Whatever the reason for such gross stupidity on the part of these teens, here's the really scary bit: the senders and receivers are being charged with child pornography. Think about that as a parent. Not only do you have to face having a kid so dumb he or she sent naked self portraits by cell phone, but if convicted, you're the parent of a soon to be registered sex offender.
Obviously, I shut Newsweek like it was on fire, watched my sweet, innocent, boy with passable penmanship play a little hockey. Then I started back in on my book. You know, it really started to get better about 150 pages in. Maybe that's just in light of the alternative reading...