Archive for Thursday, March 16, 2000

Give me a break

Just when did spring break become an endeavor for high school children?

March 16, 2000

Our 6-year-old started spring break last week. Someone explain to me how spring break grew from seven to 11 days, but I suppose that's a story for another time.

I'm just grateful she's too young to know about Daytona Beach, Padre Island or Fort Lauderdale.

In her first-grade way of thinking, partying means staying up late maybe 9 o'clock renting a movie and watching it with a big bowl of popcorn.

Life's simple pleasures.

But I figure it's only a matter of time.

Because we all know that life for the schoolboy or girl is not nearly so simple.

Blame it on the new math.

Perhaps it's the pressures of standardized testing.

The bottom line is our kids have grown up with an accelerated approach to life. They are wise beyond their years and expected to be treated as such.

Still, it used to be that spring break was a week of debauchery restricted to college students. One last fling before joining the nine-to-five, my-boss-is-a-jerk, mortgage-to-pay, bills-piling-up, time-to-settle-down, 2.3-kids, two-cars, American-dream-with-a-white-picket-fence real world.

Somewhere that all changed. It's now necessary for high school kids to get away for the week of spring break. It's understandable. They have tough lives, you know. We all remember. That senior year of high school is usually a bear.

Finding a prom date and then the hassle of coordinating the dress with the color of the guy's bow tie.

Mugging for the cameras to try to get in as many yearbook photos as possible.

Trying to avoid that inevitable case of senioritis.

Man, it's a tough life. Add to it the fact that come fall, many of these kids will leave home, go off to college and never again see their high school friends and you quickly understand why it is essential that they, too, take part in this ritual known as spring break.

So we, as parents, allow our kids to pack a bag, board a jet to some tropical place and converge with thousands of other high school and college kids, all of whom have the same intention:

Blowing off as much steam as possible.

What's wrong with this picture?

Every other weekend of the year, we not only want to know with whom they're going out and what they plan on doing, but we enforce a midnight curfew.

Now, we're letting them run free for a week with God knows whom in a place that is crawling with trouble. I've seen MTV. I know what goes on in these places. Simply put, it's no place for any minor a high school kid, especially.

But it's hard to blame these kids for being allowed to go on these getaways. Nope, that responsibility rests squarely on the shoulders of the parents, whose No. 1 priority should be protecting their children.

There is a difference between protection and overprotection, but this is ridiculous.

I never broached the subject of spring break with my parents because it was a moot point there was no way I was going.

My wife and I have already decided that there is no way our daughter will be taking part in spring break trips of this nature.

Of course, with the rate of acceleration, we may have to put our collective foot down a little earlier than expected. Like, say, in junior high.

It's our hope she'll have the good sense not to ask.

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