I know it's not just because I'm the mother of teenagers that I can't bear to even look at a newspaper these days, but it makes it harder. I'm certainly not going to stop my kids from going out but as someone said it's the ones without knives who are getting killed. What am I going to do? Give them weapons to defend themselves?
So have a nice time, and by the way have you got your hanky, emergency money to get home, bus pass, flick-knife...?
This story in particular had me in floods of tears last night. Of course Shaki was begging for his mum, he was sixteen. Sixteen. That's younger than both of mine, and I still consider it my role to protect them. Eighteen teenagers have been killed violently in London this year, and that's not to mention the French students stabbed over 200 times last week. I know it's easy to get caught up in a wave of hysteria, and maybe I am over-reacting, but what else can I do? Nothing? I keep going through scenarios I've heard about why this should be happening:
1) as a country, we're scared of our teenagers - well, we have been for a long time. I remember the gust of physical anger and sadness I felt when I watched a middle-aged woman cross the road so she wouldn't have to walk past my son in his hoodie. I know she crossed because of him because I saw her cross back after she was 'safe' and look behind her to make sure he wasn't following her. I don't think he'd even noticed her. I wanted to run and challenge her, but I realised then I've done the same myself. Changed my path so I didn't have to pass a group of teenagers who were 'hanging around'. I certainly wouldn't ever smile at them, or say hello.
2) we don't give them any responsibility - yes, I agree, just look at the traffic round the school run. Don't we even trust them to find their own way? But, but...
3) as parents, we are too wrapped up in ourselves and don't want to lose our chance at fun - I'm pleading guilty here. I'm friends with their friends on Facebook, go to concerts with them and dance whenever I can. I can't imagine my parents doing any of those things BUT I'm sure they were just as wrapped up in themselves, and besides the fourth accusation against us is ...
4) we spend too much time thinking about our kids and putting them in the centre of our lives - can't win, I guess
5) there's nothing for them to do - or maybe there's just too much school work, too many hurdles to be got over, too many exams to pass so they lose the ability to think for themselves as to what they could do in any free time? Free time, what's that?
6) too much shopping and not enough nature - I've been thinking about this a lot since going to see Hugh Lupton's show about John Clare. He claimed the concrete jungles we live in now are sending us 'out of our minds'. An interesting phrase when you come to look at it.
So here I sit looking at that phrase, out of our minds, and going round and round in circles in mine. What to do, what to say? Does anyone have any suggestions? Or do we leave it all to the Government and the police to control our own children? Somehow, there's something a bit too Orwellian in that for me.