I know what your response will be...much the same as ours was I would think, because we are older and wiser most of the time...but I think I have to write about this simply because it's so disturbing.
You know we have many children and grand children and great grand children between the two of us and we are either estranged from some or have little contact with others...and we've never met many of the great-grand children...we are sent school photographs or I copy them from Facebook and we keep more or less up to date with the goings on also through Facebook. Some of the adult children send cards at Christmas but you'll already know that it is only Teresa and Reuben who visit and with whom we have regular contact...
That's just a bit of the background of the family so as you understand we're not in any position to be...well...grandparents I suppose, and we certainly are in no position to hold forth on what we consider plain wrong, or are we? Does the biological fact of being a great grandparent give us the given right to express our probably old-fashioned views...
One of the great grandchildren who is twelve years old and in her first term of secondary school, has an account on Facebook...and she's posting photographs of herself in vaguely suggestive poses...finger in her mouth and pouting...that sort of thing. I'm almost afraid to tell you that she's accompanying some of those photos with phrases such as 'I'm hot'...
I sent Teresa a frantic e-mail and said do something now...quickly...T replied she had spoken to said child but thinks it fell on deaf ears...
It's doubtful the child understands the implications behind either posting the photos or the words she's using to describe them...apparently she is being influenced by older girls at her school...
And isn't it all too easy to trot out the 'it wouldn't have happened in my day' and of course it wouldn't. We didn't have social media for one thing...at the age of twelve I didn't notice boys and was more concerned about the welfare of my guinea-pigs...we knew about dirty old men who showed us their flaccid penis and waggled it about and we used to laugh at them and run away...we'd never come across anyone who posed as a fourteen year old boy on-line and made friends and arranged to meet when they were actually forty years old with a penchant for little girls...
We wouldn't have ever come across the phrase 'I'm hot' either and certainly would never have grasped it's implication.
It alarms and frightens me...I feel powerless when Himself quietly shows me her page and says...But what do we do?...her Mother is capable of withdrawing her Facebook account and we're praying that is just what she does...I'd be inclined to get rid of her computer as well and not allowing her near one until she's sixteen...
It makes me feel sick and distressed and it upsets Himself terribly and we'd both feel the same way were this child not one of Himselfs great grandchildren...if she were just a random child we happened upon, who at the age of twelve, when she ought to still be a child, and sucking her thumb at bedtime and thinking about puppies and cute little kittens is instead playing at being Lolita...
I don't for one moment expect you to have a magic and easy solution...we can't simply gather up those children and bring them here to live with us and learn how to be a child before embarking on adulthood...I can't supervise her internet activity and send her off on long walks across the bog with her Great Grandpa and teach her how to have real fun without posting suggestive photos open to all and sundry...
Are the next generation down from us simply afraid to say 'NO'...do those parents imagine their children won't love them anymore if they lay down rules of what is acceptable and what is not...why is it when we raised those parents according to our standards, that they seem powerless to do the same with their children. Was it us...was it us who are to blame...did we bring our children up badly and they are determined not to follow and repeat our mistakes...and does that mean they feel that giving their children total freedom to do as they choose ensures they will be always be loved...
I often think of one of Himselfs Grandchildren who came to stay with her parents a few years ago...she ate with her hands and never responded to anything we put to her...she didn't actually speak to either of us during the week they spent here and was so appalling in her behaviour we couldn't even sit at the table to eat with her...she knelt on her chair and stuffed food into her mouth with her fingers...she simply didn't answer when spoken to...I had honestly thought she was learning disabled...her mother said she was shy...her father...Himselfs son...said nothing.
Maybe the answer is to simply switch off...to continue walking our dogs across the old bog roads...to chat to smelly old men in the shop and to mend the fences and spend time making stuff and gossip with the neighbours and revel in having Jack and Alex and Caitlin and Jamie living next door but one, who say please and thank-you and make a brew and bring out a chair to sit upon and chat away about their days...to have Caitlin engrossed when I tell an old story...to watch as Alex's face lights up when he shows me his new bike...
Perhaps we need to appreciate what we have on our doorstep and stop fretting about those we can do nothing about...
I feel panicky and helpless when faced with such a young child exposing herself in such a way...because there is nothing much I can do...we were aghast at the child who stuffed food into her mouth and appeared not to know how to use a knife and fork when she was nine years old...are we plain old-fashioned and have we lost touch with the way things are today...I simply don't know.