I was at a small get-together with some sixth grade moms last week, and we were debating whether a school-required book our kids are reading is age-appropriate. We have all read the book so we can guide our children through some issues it raises in case their teachers focus on other things.
As we were talking about those issues (i.e. cocaine use, neglectful parents, violence from older brothers, and bad decisions with no consequences), I realized that the extra assignment I had given my fifth and sixth grade sons this summer might be more intense and grown-up than the book we were discussing.
We got a subscription to USA Today, because I decided they should start reading the newspaper, and the writing is less sophisticated than the New York Times or Wall Street Journal, which my husband and I read. Plus, the kids would get drawn in by the sports section.
What a summer of developmentally inappropriate news… for any age!
This really hit home when my eleven year old walked into the kitchen, which at the time was filled with six snacking boys (his brothers and friends, age 6-10) and addressed them in a stream of consciousness:
“Wow, lots of plane crashes lately. How many people do you think have died? And that war in the Ukraine. Do you think it could start World War Three? I mean, really, did you see they bombed a school in Gaza? What’s the world coming to?!”
Six little ice cream covered faces just stared at him. Wide eyes. Still-chubby cheeks. And now heads filled with real-life stories they may not have been ready to hear.
The sad thing is… the truth can be far worse than fiction.