Growing Up Too Fast

March 29, 2018 • Posted by PartywithMoms in Marianne's Early Childhood Column • Tags: , , , , 3 comments  

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When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. (1 Corinthians 13:11)

Watching the March For Our Lives and listening to the speeches of the teenagers this past weekend, I felt sad that they had had to put away their childish things so suddenly. On February 14, when they might have been giving each other cute Valentines, the Marjorie Stoneham Douglas High School students were witnessing a scene of tragedy and horror. They lost friends and mentors, and they lost their childhood innocence. They met the real world and didn’t like what they learned — not only that a fellow student could senselessly murder 17 people in 6 minutes with an automatic rifle — but also that what they thought were logical steps to prevent more tragedies were rejected or ignored by the adults in charge.

39 days later, on their first day of Spring Break, instead of playing volleyball and swimming at the beach, they were marching in Washington and New York, giving reasoned and articulate speeches. No longer thinking like children, they now recognize the power wielded by interest groups over elected representatives. They refuse to be patronized any longer with “thoughts and prayers.” They reject claims that they are too young to understand the subtleties of the world.

A girl held a poster that said “I should be worrying about my SATs. Instead I’m worrying about Our Lives,” epitomizing the way these kids have been pulled away from the usual teenage preoccupations and thrust into an effort to effect change in an adult world. They are activists now, rallying and organizing for a cause that they claim they will never abandon.

Childhood is over for young adults all over the country. Their schools, where generations of children went to learn and play and flourish, no longer feel safe. This generation is rallying around the themes of school safety, background checks and sensible gun policy. They have become political in the best meaning of the word. They are not Republicans or Democrats. They reject partisanship, racism, any prejudice that could divide them. They understand that in order to succeed they must be a united force, opposing gun violence in schools and everywhere else. They welcome suburban kids, city kids, country kids, parents, grandparents and teachers. They include people of all races and ethnicities, any who share their strong feelings and embrace their goals. They are determined to use the ballot box to effect change and to make the world less dangerous for the next generation of children.

Their voices are strong. They know what they want and it’s not more of the same. We watch them in awe, and holding back tears, so sorry we could not have kept them children a few more years.

Marianne Riess is the former head of the Putnam Indian Field School in Greenwich, CT. She has 40 years of experience in working with young children.

Read Marianne’s other columns here

Comments ( 3 )

  1. susan gullotta

    Important article that we all need to read!!! At that age my friends and I thought we were indestructible and would live forever. That’s why we had fun with our youth. So sad that children/teens are faced with adult life before they should have to be.
    Thanks for the great thoughts and post!

  2. Marianne Ries

    Thanks, Susan. Unfair what modern kids have to face.

  3. Sue Sabini

    So poignantly expressed. Youth is precious and should go on as long as possible. Thank you Marianne for your wonderful, thoughtful words.

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