185. A Difficult Subject

I don’t like writing about difficult subjects, but sometimes, though no one is making me do it, the subject seems to demand to be written about. As I do write, I hope that the people who read what I write, and understand it, will be the ones who need to hear it, and that others will be uninterested.
Sometimes, I hear an adult say, “If I were just thirty years younger…” I understand what they mean. It would be very nice if people’s attraction to each other fell neatly into appropriate categories, but it doesn’t always do so. People have feelings they’re not supposed to have, and they have to make sure their superegos, not their ids, govern both their speech and behavior.
It’s important, when attraction comes the wrong way, to remember that we’re not thirty years younger (or forty, fifty, or whatever; the math is not relevant). Some of that attraction may be appropriate and healthy. It’s probably not a coincidence that many teachers and parents often find it easier to relate with children with whom they don’t share a gender. I don’t know about gay and Lesbian teachers – whether they find it easier to relate with children of their own gender.
But that natural attraction, when it happens, needs to be channeled in
ways that don’t hurt people. We have to be very careful to avoid giving anyone inappropriate attention. It can be difficult; in our lives outside teaching and parenting, we’ve had our moments of yielding to attraction (attraction to adults), and for some of us, great moments and years have resulted. We’re used to behaving in ways that reflect the attractions we feel. Marriage often sets pretty clear boundaries, and adulthood ought to set others.
I was seeing a movie, “The Man in the Moon,” when I thought of this subject. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. But I’m not immune to the tendency to wish I were forty years younger. When I hear about an adult who has crossed over the boundaries, my first response is to condemn. The speech and behavior that victimizes people needs to be condemned.
It’s also important, though, to acknowledge that the feelings that sometimes lead to that speech and behavior are common feelings. Ignoring them doesn’t make them go away. But recognizing them, and thinking clearly about them, can help to keep children safe.

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