Childhood is gone…Turner Classic Film at 11.

It’s not enough that we subject them to a barrage of tests designed more to prop up local real estate values and funnel taxpayer dollars to wealthy corporations than to assess learning or teaching.  It’s not enough that they are practically bound in cotton-wool from birth, with their bike helmets, ski helmets, kneepads, elbow-pads, and car seats.  Now, we’re coming for the sweet, sweet acetones of their permanent markers.  Last week, an eight-year old kid in Colorado was suspended from school for sniffing sharpies, on the suspicion that he was getting high.  (Was I the only kid to liked the smell of permanent markers?  How many of them would you have to huff dry before you’d get high, anyway?)  What’s next:  outlawing twirling around on the playground, because that makes kids dizzy?

I’ve long wondered, what will become of the rising generation who never knew the comforting whiff of a fresh mimeograph as it hit their desks?  As they’re watching Turner Classic Movies, what will they make of that scene in Fast Times at Ridgemont High, when all of the kids pick up their handouts, sniff them, and sigh with pleasure?  It’s just not the same with photocopies.

Now, Suburban Guerilla points us to a Philadelphia Magazine article on Stepford Housewives 2.0 who schedule their eight-year olds for bikini waxes, highlights, and “blowouts.”  (Please tell us this is an April Fool’s Day joke!  Ha-ha?)  That’s right:  waxes for children who don’t yet have pubic hair.  From the article:  “‘I’ve actually been joking that I’m going to write a book called Where Has All the Pubic Hair Gone?’  Janice Hillman, a doctor in the Penn Health System at Radnor who specializes in adolescent medicine, tells me. ‘It’s such a rarity to find it these days in 10- and 12-year-old girls, and older girls. I need to check for it at that age — it’s an indicator of puberty and development, how much there is, where it’s growing. And now, I need to ask girls, if it’s not there, ‘Do you wax? Do you shave?’ Because so many of them do.'”

I suppose their mothers must experience limitless amounts of boredom and self-loathing.  Ladies, this looks like reason number 612 why you shouldn’t quit your job after having children:  less free time with which to turn your tween daughter into a waxed, implanted, tanorexic Pr0n star lookalike.  Talk about alienating girls from their own bodies.  Medieval Catholicism has nothing on these women.

0 thoughts on “Childhood is gone…Turner Classic Film at 11.

  1. I remember purple mimeographs! Maybe my impoverished public school was late transitioning to new technology.

    And you forgot the smell of rubber cement too, and the fun way it dried up enough to roll into little glue boogers and throw at people and stick to things.

    Last year in a WS class we read an article about the 60s fashion system — I don’t think it was Bordo, it might have been Sandra Bartky — that had a quote from a jet-setter and model that one year she was so bored she pulled out every one of her leg hairs with tweezers. We spent the whole discussion section on that one comment.


  2. Eeew? By the time you finished one leg, you’d have to start immediately on the other leg because it would have grown back in! Talk about limitless boredom and self-loathing. What’s wrong with shaving? It’s inexpensive, it doesn’t stink, and it doesn’t hurt if you do it carefully. (And even then, I’m betting that a little cut on the knee is much less painful than recovery from a waxing session…)


  3. Historiann, I’m happy Principal Benisch suspended the Sharpie-sniffing child. Young Eathan obviously has an addiction problem and needs counseling. I hope he gets the help that he, as a white-male American child, deserves. After all, he represents our collective future.

    When I was a child, I began to sniff Mr. Sketch’s blue markers, which smell like blueberries. To this day, my right nostril is stained a purplish blue. My parents hypothesize that my out-of-control sniffing habit may have led to brain damage, which in turn, might have led to my decision to pursue a graduate degree in the humanities.


  4. We had a mimeograph machine at my University until the mid-1990s, when it finally broke and couldn’t be fixed because there were no parts.

    re: markers — we’ve switched from chalkboards to whiteboards. I like them because they are less messy but I have a colleague who is so sensitive to fumes that she has to teach in one of the few classrooms that still have chalkboards.


  5. Mmmmmnnnn…I’m on leave this year, so I forgot the olfactory pleasures of whiteboard markers that will almost make up for my having to teach again in the fall…

    And Ortho: yes, brain damage not necessary but helpful in our line of work.


  6. Mimeos were great, but I had a sixth-grade teacher whose husband worked for the Revell Plastics Corporation, the premo maker of much-assembly-required plastic models. Every second or third Friday she brought in huge bags of seconds (when we were good). It was “all-glue, all-the-time” from about 2 p.m. until dismissal, making tankers, tanks, F-100s, racing cars, and the occasional hollowed superhero. And that was nothing compared to the day new wrestling mats arrived at school in the 10th grade, and we got to help roll them out. They seemed to have been shipped in layers of white powder that smelled (and affected us) exactly like purest airplane glue. The pre-Zero Tollerance world was a great place to grow up in!


  7. You know, a lot of the things that I did in grade school are just illegal now. Get in a fight at high school or even grade school and they’ll arrest you. Ridiculous.

    Luckily, I can still duke it out with other graduate students.



  8. MMMmmm…Indyanna, that story takes the cake! I bet you also followed the DDT truck around as it belched out poison, too! Actually, while I was born too late to huff the DDT, I’m amazed at the absence of car safety well into the 1980s. We 1970s kids bounced around like leftover snacks in the back of someone’s mom’s big old station wagon–in the way back, like luggage!

    How did we ever survive?


  9. The killer part was that resentment of our privilege by the other five classes of sixth-graders stoked a rumor that we were the “dumb” class, and you can imagine what happened next. Kids got riled up, parents descended, fingers were pointed (esp. at the kids in Mr. Finger’s class–the only male teacher in the whole elementary school save for the gym guy–supposedly the “smart” kids), a total PR nightmare for the administrators! Oh, yeah, and I witlessly rabble-roused on the stairs on a class expedition downstairs to the Library one day and got our model-building privilege briefly suspended. That’s when I learned about the phenomenon of school bullies. Had to get “sick” for a few days until the crisis blew over…


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