teenage sex as recreation

Yesterday’s Los Angeles Times contained an article about Dutch families and their “enlightened” attitudes about sex.  “Americans should take a lesson from the Dutch” according to the author.  Apparently abstinence education has been a dismal flop in America and  makes it necessary for kids to sneak around behind the backs of their “puritanical” parents and experiment with sex in the back seats of cars when it would be so much more convenient to snuggle with their partners in the security and comfort of their own beds.  In the morning everyone gets to enjoy a lovely breakfast together and chat about whether the young couple was able to achieve orgasm and if they require any helpful tips from their more experienced elders.  Yes, this is the kind of dialogue that goes on in the homes of these Dutch families, according to the author.

The article’s writer goes on to cite statistics that indicate that the Dutch teens have dramatically lower rates of teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions, because everyone is so matter of fact and open about teenage sex.  The parents feel that the kids are going to have sex anyway, so why not weave it into the fabric of family life and discuss it with parents as openly as what will be served for dinner that evening.  No one can argue that less teenage pregnancy, STD’s and abortion are a good thing, although none of the aforementioned would be even better, but that’s a whole other topic.

Parents and the school system begin the kids’ sex education when they are around eight-years-old, but this is not the clinical kind of information that I remember getting at school when I was slightly older.  The Dutch are pragmatic and certainly could not be  considered prudish by any stretch of the imagination.  No topic is off limits and includes discussions on the most pleasurable positions, how to arouse your partner (hopefully at least a few years down the road), alternate sexual lifestyles, deviant behavior and whatever else may tickle your fancy.

Many Dutch parents admitted  that they needed a period of adjustment when the kids first started having their co-ed sleepovers, and showed up all smiles and glowiness at the breakfast table the morning after,  but any discomfort was quickly dispelled as the scene became familiar and was nothing that the aroma of bacon and coffee couldn’t quell.

As a long-time Christian and mother of four grown children, my opinion of all this “sensible acceptance” of human sexuality are more complex and wordy than I intend to go into on this post.  That would be taking this in a much deeper direction.  The comment that caught my attention and caused me to want to write about it (albeit an abridged version) was a young Dutch girl’s response when she was asked about her first experience by her mother the morning after.  “It was fun!”  the young lady bubbled, the picture of contentment and self-assured maturity. No insecurity, no worry about whether the boy would stay in the picture, no body issues or the beginning of tears in the heart.  Just pure, unadulterated fun.

I thought back to what was fun for me in my teen years.  Riding in the back of a pick up headed to the beach was fun (I didn’t say anything about being safe), dancing at The Classic Cat Nineties to “Devil with a blue dress on” was fun.  Relishing every bite of a hot fudge sundae at Bob’s Big Boy was fun, singing at the top of our lungs along with the radio on a road trip adventure was fun.  Sex, at least the final act, was down the road, but even then I wouldn’t have referred to it as “fun.”  Fun is eating cotton candy at the fair, and sex is not a cotton candy kind of activity.  Anything that has the ability to create life, to break your heart, or mend it is a potent, powerful force.

The Dutch girl’s response was not the first time I’ve heard of sex as a fun activity, but perhaps this was just one time too many.  I think some people confuse pleasure with fun, but they are not the same thing, and the other f  word as relating to sex has never quite sit right with me.  Respect it, cherish it, acknowledge it’s power, because it’s a force to be reckoned with.  It changes everything, and a shattered heart is not fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have I been neglecting you?

It’s been a minute since I created a new post.  Even worse, it’s been a long while since I’ve even had the desire.  I have been fairly diligent about typing 1,000 words several times a week.  Kind of an arbitrary number, I guess, but I had read somewhere that if you are going to call yourself a writer, you have to be rigidly disciplined about those thousand words, every day, at least every day you can stagger to the computer barring unforeseen emergencies such as imminent childbirth, which is not likely to happen in this household and most particularly to this member.

It would be a bleak day indeed if I couldn’t call myself a writer to other life forces but, even more so, to myself, but even those thousand words are not the priority they were when I first read that little admonition.  Panic stricken about non-writer status, I would do my due diligence on a daily basis.  Gradually I started making excuses.  A smidgin of clinical depression here, talk of four blood moons there, a desire to create triple fudge brownies that I could consume, rather than write about.  You get the idea…

Yesterday I attended a prayer meeting at a friend’s church, which has just started up.  The first lady (I have to say I’ve never been partial to that term, cause it makes the other women in the congregation seem like chopped liver (sixth lady, seventh lady?) told me she would help me promote my blog.  Not sure exactly how that happens or if she will even like my blog,  Sarcasm and light cynicism are not everyone’s cup of tea, but perhaps, just maybe, a flicker of hope invaded my passivity and I thought, “By golly, maybe she can do that.”

I have also been very belatedly coming to the conclusion that maybe I’m just a teeny bit hard on myself in the way I assess my productivity on this planet.  A friend and I were discussing this morning that our fathers did not set us up to be valued and cherished by ourselves or any other man, which caused us to act accordingly with boyfriends and husbands, a topic I have been addressing sporadically for a very long time.  Yeah, she and I and so many others really were at an extreme deficit and encumbered by so many issues a woman was never created to face.  I know it sounds like I’m wandering off on a tangent here, but I think these issues adversely affect the calling in our lives.  At the very least, they are significantly delayed.  The other night I heard Joel Osteen say “You don’t have to be strong all the time.”  Such a simple statement, and we all know that. right?  But I don’t think I did, and it actually felt quite liberating.

I have so much to write about, and I think I’m going to write for awhile without over thinking things. just like this post and maybe my words will illuminate my path and lead me to where God wants me to go, creating a thread of light even in the darkest nights.

PEOPLE, GET READY

I have been a Christian for over 35 years. Almost from the beginning, I heard sermons about the Lord’s imminent return. I remember when my oldest daughter (I’ve sinced birthed two additional daughters and a son) was a toddler, and a zealous brother in the Lord asked me “Do you think you’ll get to see her grow up?” He appeared hopeful that this would not be the case. Stan was disenchanted with the world he’d known and ready to be beamed up. That very hour was not too soon for him, but his question made me fearful and anxious. I didn’t even want to consider what he was putting out there. I wanted to see my baby girl grow up even in this troubled world. I guess every generation does.

If the world was dark then, it seems darker still now, or perhaps I chose to be blissfully unaware and concentrate on raising my kids and everything else you have to take care of living on Planet Earth. Certainly the world was not a pleasant place prior to the birth of Jesus. Their was a flood that destroyed all but a small segment of humans (Believer and unbeliver alike know THAT story), bloody wars and, as incomprehensible as that might seem, children sacrified to various gods by their own parents, but I did not live back then, and it certainly appears, during my lifetime, the world just keeps becoming more hostile, more frightening, and far less God honoring. There was a time when even unbelievers exhibited a certain restraint and respect when it came to any mention of God. There was almost a reverence there. During recent years, I have seen much of that awe fly out the window replaced by outright blasphemy. I’ve even heard so-called believers proclaiming in frustration “Jesus Christ!” I’ve never seen anyone exprssing distaste or correcting them, but it’s hardly a blip on the radar screen when you consider what else is going on.

Currently there are more slaves in the world than there have ever before in recorded history. This is mind boggling when you consider the captivity of Jews in Egypt and America’s shameful past in forcing captured Africans into slavery. News of beheadings have practically become ho hum news. Obviously I could go on and on as the torrent of horror washes over us like a tsunami. It seems the choice is to either numb out or writhe in pain like a slug covered in a salt shower.

Well thought of prophets are having dreams and visions, and, folks, they ain’t pretty. Many of us have experienced an increase in personal attacks that seem to come out of left field. Obviously the bible has a lot to say about fasting, and, through the years, I’ve been inconsistent at best, but I’m starting to feel it’s not just a recommendation but rather a requirement for my life, because I’m not feeling so happy go lucky and carefree these days, and I know the joy of the Lord is my strength. If fasting brings about peace and joy and calm and wisdom, I say bring on the growling tummy. If prayer and praise and worship will push away the darkness, then I need to get on my knees and on my face, and lay aside some worldly pleasures, because there’s only so many hours in the day, and my energy is not infinite.

It’s crazy to think I could really be living in the last days, but some generation is going to, and it could easily be me. I’m not one to listen to the news, but just the stuff that trickles in penetrates my denial like a steak knife plunging into a bowl of whipped butter.

I find myself from time to time singing an old refrain made famous by the late Sam Cooke… “People, get ready.” “There’s a train a coming.” “Don’t need no money.” “You just get on board.”

THIS HAPPENED IN REAL TIME

About a week ago my five-year-old grandaughter and I attended a kindergarten graduation party.  The celebration was put on by the child’s grandmother who I had met the week before when visiting a friend’s church.  “Hey, we should get our granddaughters together,” I suggested.  “Why don’t you bring her to my granddaughter’s graduation party,” she offered.  

The family lived in a duplex in a “sketchy” neighborhood about 15-minutes from our house.  We live what I like to refer to as the gritty city ourselves, but there are all houses on our street, and it’s pretty quiet.  Everyone appears to be owners rather than renters, which gives them an emotional investment in the neighborhood.  The majority of them have raised their children here, and it’s a quiet oasis with outlying areas that are less than pristine.  Still the area in which the grandmother, her daughter and granddaughter lived had a much different flavor.  It seemed tense and jumpy with a certain uneasy energy in the air.  A man walked by pushing a shopping cart with a long, worn out sofa perched precariously and hanging off the sides of the cart.  He did not seem out of place on this street.

I wasn’t really put off by this scene.  After all it was broad daylight, and children splashed in a blow-up pool and jumped energetically in the blow-up jumper.  Party guests sat at tables eating fruit and hot dogs or milled about exchanging family news.  I think my granddaughter and I were the only ones there who were not related to the party girl and her grandma.   I was a little ill at ease, because I didn’t know anybody, not even the party giver, really, but I had brought my granddaughter here to play with children and jump off some of the energy all healthy children possess and adults would like to channel.

We had been dropped off at the house by my son-in-law, and after a few hours we were definitely ready to go.  I called my son and asked him to pick us up, and he agreed.  Earlier in the day I had seen two young men pass by on the street, and something made me pay attention to their presence for a brief moment before the disappeared down the street.

Suddenly I heard the sounds of pop, pop, pop, pop in rapid succession.  Sometimes I hear the sound of fireworks in the distance at my house, so I didn’t think much of those sounds.  Lots of kids were graduating, and it would not be unusual for people to celebrate with fireworks…Only these weren’t.  The party girl’s mother quickly yelled “Everyone get in the house!”  There was fear and urgency in her voice.  The kids were lead out of the jumper, my granddaughter being one of them.  My granddaughter had taken her shoes and socks off to get in the jumper and was trying to retrieve them, but I hissed “Just get out of the jumper.”  I didn’t want to scare her to death, but I didn’t want her to be hit by a stray bullet either.

Very quickly we heard sirens and probably an ambulance as well.  We were all in one of of the two duplexes.  My granddaughter was in the little girl’s bedroom with some other children, and they all began to talk about the shooting, which was probably the first my granddaughter heard of it.  I was beyond grateful that she was safe…that we all were safe.

My son seemed to take a long time to arrive.  He had stopped for gas.  As I write these words, it occurs to me that we might have been walking towards his parked car on the street when the bullets were fired, if he had come any earlier.  I’m sure we have so many close calls in life that we are not even aware of…that we may only find out about when we get to Heaven.  My son pulled into the driveway.  I was a little reluctant to leave the house with my granddaughter to get into the car.  I was reasonably sure it was safe at that point, but I was reluctant to take the slightest chance with my precious grandchild with me.

Seeing my son’s emerald green car and his calm face was so reassuring.  He might as well have been the angel Gabriel wheeling around in a golden chariot.  I was so relieved to see him and get out of there.  Yes, things can happen anywhere.  Like my former pastor said “The devil knows how to get on the freeway,” but this day, it had happened THERE, and THERE was where I wanted to get away from and the faster, the better.  The street was closed off, so we went in the opposite direction, which was more than fine with me.

Yesterday I called the woman who had invited us to the party just to make sure everyone was okay after we left.  I also wanted to see if she had any word on the people who were shot.  It turns out two boys were shot had died at the scene.  Now I try to remember what the two guys walking down the street looked like.  I wonder if it was them, and I wonder if I was inadvertently one of the last people to see them alive.

All of this happened just four buildings down from where we were celebrating a milestone in the life of a five-year-old.  Who could predict that on that very same day, on that very same street, there would be no more milestones for two young men whose lives were cut short by what should have been celebration fireworks. 

WHY DOES ANYTHING SURPRISE ME ANYMORE?

I recently read about a 42-year-old middle school teacher who gave one of her male students a lap dance.  Before you deem this type of behavior inappropriate, allow me to mention an extenuating circumstance.  It was, after all, the young man’s birthday, and the dance was the teacher’s way of acknowledging it.  So much more innovative than singing a song or bringing cupcakes to class.

This impromtu dance number was witnessed by all the other students, and when the teacher was chastised for what some would call : A) crazy, B) mind boggling, C) immoral, D) all three times 100, she explained that the other students had encouraged the X-rated entertainment.  Well, gee, that totally explains it.  It’s hard to get the kids to be attentive in class these days, so why not give them a vote in what goes on at school and make it a democratic process?  I’m quite sure the performance kept the kids engaged, and isn’t that what every good teacher strives for?  After the dance ended this “teacher of the year” candidate hopped off the student’s lap after merrily proclaiming “I love you baby!”  Now that’s enthusiasm and shows a caring attitude as well, so kudos to her!

I was still shaking my head over these antics when I recently read about a substitute teacher being fired for soliciting dating advice from her fourth grade class.  Honestly, this seems pretty mild in comparison to the exotic dancer/teacher.  Still teachers are not being paid to make relationship coaches out of nine-year-olds.  Is the concept of reading, writing, and rythmetic becoming too old school for school?  When confronted  about her questionable teaching tactics, this advice-seeking educator insisted that the children enjoyed the role playing activities, and that they were helping her decide between the two men she was currently involved with.  Now that’s what I call a win-win situation.

When I was in the fourth grade, teachers seemed so far removed and from life outside the classroom that I was always amazed to spot one in the market or at a restaurant.  “What are you doing here, Ms. Birnbaum?”  I once asked in an incredulous voice upon seeing a teacher outside of class.  Teachers were one dimensional beings.  They were not given to cavorting with their charges.  They were remote and not usually very approachable. You certainly did not greet them with a “Yo, can I get a lap dance?”  You were lucky to get a gold star or a bathroom pass.     They did not ask for or offer dating advice and take whatever you said to heart as if you were their peer.

I won’t even touch on the topic of teachers who not only have the hots for their underage charges but don’t seem to have an issue with taking it to the next level.  That’s a whole other post.  All I can say is school sure isn’t what it used to be.

 

 

PRAISING GOD THROUGH MUSIC

There was once a song whose title alludes me.  In fact the only lyrics I can recall are “I’m a little bit country…”I’m a little bit rock n’ roll.”  That’s the way I feel about contemporary Christian music, which I would classify in the soft rock category, and gospel.  I relate to both of them and may prefer one over the other depending on my mood.  These musical styles can really affect the type of church you go to.  I love music, so the praise and worship portion that precedes the message, is very important to me.  

For many years, my kids and I attended a church called The Vineyard, which was pretty white bread and leaned towards a certain style of music.  There was a worship band, and they never played the old hymns, which was fine with me, because I didn’t grow up in the church and was not exposed to them.  The truth is most of them didn’t resonate with me.  The Vineyard played the kind of music that everyone stood up and kind of swayed to, and we all sang along.  Many of the songs were words taken directly from the psalms.  They were touching and sometimes brought tears to my eyes.

Since leaving the Vineyard, I have gone to many other churches.  A few of them have been heavily Latino, and they tended towards kind of an old school, lowrider vibe.  Their music was often loud and amped up with drum riffs.  I liked that style of music too.  Good music is good music no matter what the style, and I’m eclectic enough to enjoy it all.

Later on I attended several predominantly Black churches where gospel music was the order of the day.  It was definitely very far from the Vineyard music, which was so familiar to me, but it was great as well.

I guess my whole point here is I can identify with the song that says “I’m a little bit country…”I’m a little bit rock n’ roll.”  We live in a diverse world, and our music reflects all the cultures of the world.  It is great to worship the Lord in song, and as long as it lifts Him up, it’s all good.

SOUNDS DELICIOUS, BUT I THINK I’ll PASS

Anyone who knows me at all knows I have an affinity for cookbooks.  They sing their siren song to me in the promise of a succulent stew, a creamy custard, or a fragrant, perfectly roasted chicken.  The images of fantastic food is as enticing to me as a fashion spread is to those who are lured by the images of beautiful clothes, and, yes, lovely clothes are…well, lovely, but can they permeate your home with an amazing aroma? Can they show love and hospitality to the hungry masses? Can you eat them?  Well, you get my drift.  Hey, we all have our priorities.

Lack of space and a resolve to avoid an appearance on “Hoarders” has caused me to periodically prune my cookbook collection, yet  I still have too many of them, and, like any avowed addict, I can’t say I will never purchase another cookbook, but I no longer do so with the wild, impulsive abandon of someone furtively crouched behind a trash can smoking crack.  Does that sound slightly dramatic?  Granted the consequences of my purchases were less devastating, but the bottom line is I wasn’t even using them, and I wanted to stop spending money on them only to try to twist someone’s arm to take them off my hands a month later, which was kind of crazy.  The simple truth is a lot of people don’t want to take the time or effort to cook from scratch and therefore do not feel compelled to accumulate books that are taking up space and are heavy to haul around when you move (believe me, I know this from personal experience).  When they do get a hankering to tinker around in the kitchen, the computer is their friend, and that’s the case for me as well.  I love to look at the glossy photography in a coffee table worthy tribute to delectable dishes, but after I have done my share of perusing, it’s back to the shelf they go, and I’m off on an online search for the perfect peach cobbler.

I also subscribe to several foodie magazines.  After I read them, I can usually find people to pass them on to more readily than a book, but I have rarely attempted to make a dish from one of these magazines.  Yesterday I did see some amazing looking fried chicken with an appealing kick that came from soaking the pieces in hot sauce before coating them with flour.  I started to look through the recipe to see what ingredients I had on hand and what I would need to purchase to create this poultry masterpiece.  

That’s when I noticed the instructions, which did not bode well for a potential collaboration with this dish.  “Working in four batches.”  These words struck fear into my heart, and I suddenly realized why there is a disconnect between acquiring all these tomes to fine foods and the fact that I don’t use the books.  I have food fascination/food phobia, a tricky combination to be sure.  For instance, I would love to make a creamy custard or cheesecake, but I am intimidated by the process of pouring boiling water (sounds risky) halfway up the pan before placing the whole affair in the oven.   I also have an aversion to creating a big mess with the knowledge that no one in this household will want to clean it up afterwards,  so I don’t want to use a food processor, an immersion blender, brown something in oil and then transfer this whole production to yet another appliance and then have a million sticky, oily, tumeric stained (yes, that’s happened) items to have to immerse in hot, soapy water and scrub.

Yes, I’m a messy cook.  Powdery substances such as flour and confectioner’s sugar mysteriously sprinkle themselves on my granite counter top.  When I carmelize onions or fry potatoes on the stove, particles often flip from the spatula and situate themseles in hard to reach places around the burners.  The cooking part is not the problem, but it is invariably a precursor to the clean up, which, for me, is an ordeal.

And this is what I need to remind myself of when a cookbook tries to wrap itself around me with its insidious pasta tentacles.  I DON’T WANT TO CLEAN UP THE MESS AND NOBODY ELSE IN THIS HOUSE DOES EITHER.  Thus I will stick to the tried and true recipes that call for throwing everything in the crock pot or a casserole dish, and I don’t need more cookbooks or fancy kitchen appliances for that.   DILEMNA SOLVED!