What is the point of shielding children from the more “negative” parts of life? For my entire life, I have never been able to wrap my head around why some people decide to actively shield their kids from discovering for figuring out more “adult” aspects of life. I’m not saying that every parent should give their kid a copy of Grand Theft Auto or Doom at age five as I have seen firsthand how that affects certain people. I believe that there is a perfect balance of what information a kid can take in as they grow up.
This balance varies greatly from person to person, but even if some kids can take more than others, it’s better to just let them find out on their own and have a real conversation about what it is than flat out blocking them from finding out. The second that a parent tells kids not to do something and doesn’t give a very good reason of why they shouldn’t do it, the kid is going to become curious and want to do it anyways. If a kid finds out what something is or even experiences it, there’s no point in lying about it. The kid already has an idea of what it is, and if you won’t tell them you can bet the internet will. It’s far better to just be honest and give the tools that the kid needs to be safe and educated about all these new things they’re learning.
What many parents don’t realize is that kids are growing up with a digital web that can get them what they want when they want it without anyone knowing, and if the kids aren’t taught how to navigate all of this with a level head, they could find themselves in a dangerous situation. At the end of the day, kids have free will that is just as strong as any adults, they will learn about life with or without the help of an adult mentor.
When I was in third grade, I wanted to go see Kung Fu Panda. All my friends were excited about it, but, when my mom broke the news to me that we couldn’t afford to go, I was heartbroken.
For weeks and months, I was upset about it. Until one day after school, when my mom made enough money, she showed up with the DVD and a stuffed panda bear in hand.
I’ve kept that panda bear ever since. Its name is Bob, and it’s a she. I don’t remember why I decided to give a girl panda one of the most boy names I knew at that time, but I do remember the countless questions I was asked, and the countless times I didn’t care to give an exact answer I didn’t even know myself.
What I did know was that I loved that panda. I brought it everywhere. I brought it to my dad’s home on the weekends, to the occasional family dinners, and to the sunset Malibu car rides.
It was around me when I was happy and when I was sad. I held onto it during the silent nights. I held onto it with the grip of my small, but tight hand while trying desperately not to feel alone with my family in the other room.
In a time of darkness, that stuffed animal was the last dwindling light source. It held every bit of my fighting innocence that diminished within me as I grew up, but, as I carried it with me through my life’s adventures, I carried bits of my childhood along with it.
When I moved in with my dad, I brought that stuffed animal with me.
When I went to Argentina for the first time, I brought that animal with me to the hotel, on the plane, and in my backpack on tourist trips.
Every trip I took to Mexico, I’d bring it with me.
When I went to boarding school for the first time, it stayed on my bed. When I went home for weekends, it came with me in my suitcase. When I went to OVS for the first time, it came with me.
After I got back surgery before sophomore year, with all of my emotions ridiculously heightened from the the extreme pain meds that put me under, I had a mental breakdown for hours because I thought I had left this panda at OVS. It didn’t stop until my uncle lifted up my blankets and handed it to me.
I was fifteen then.
Then the Thomas Fire came. In a panic, I only had thirty minutes to pack anything valuable to me. Without hesitation, I grabbed my panda and threw it into the bottom of my bag. The dorm parents told us we would only be gone for the night, but I couldn’t risk it. I cried when I thought I left it at school, I couldn’t imagine what would happen if it burned. I had to bring it with me.
It seems ridiculous how emotionally attached I am to an inanimate object now that I’ve grown up, but it’s still important to me. It stays on my bed and it no longer goes on trips with me; I no longer rely on it. I don’t hold it when I fall asleep. In fact, it sometimes slips onto the floor guiltily in the middle of the night. But, whenever I’m distraught or alone, I grab onto it and hold it as tight as I can.
It may still be a stuffed animal, but it’s so much more.
It’s the last thing I have from my mother. I no longer have photos in my possession or objects from her and, despite all the tragic, dark times, this bear represents one of the few good memories I have of her. It symbolizes the goodness in her which faded away over time, but is still kept as a stored memory I hold onto – literally.
It holds my innocence. My ruined, diminished childhood innocence still stays safe inside that stuffed animal I look at every time I make my bed and I still smile about it.
The panda symbolizes my childhood. Without it, the last remnants of it would vanish.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
This poem was written by Robert Frost, it is one of my favorites. I think that this poem symbolizes the innocence that a child possesses until they are exposed to the world’s raw truths and they change. Holding onto that innocence and purity is very hard, even impossible. At some point, everyone loses their innocence.