What do Elizabeth Berkely and I have in common besides our hot bodies, long thick hair and our ability to pole dance? We were both in the gifted program at Forest Elementary School in Farmington Hills, Michigan. She and I would get pulled out of our class and taken to special activities for “smart kids.” You can imagine how cool it was to be yanked out of class in front of our peers and taken to do “extra spelling words.”
This past week, I turned into an 85 year old bubbie and saw a movie on a Tuesday morning at 10 am. It was a documentary, so it wasn’t as trivial as seeing, say, “We are the Millers”, which I saw on a Sunday at 2 pm. There’s a difference.
The movie was called “Blackfish” and it was about the abuse of whales at SeaWorld. It was the most disturbing thing I’ve seen in a long time. I guarantee if you go, you will never take your kids to SeaWorld again. (And so, as I told Craig, the movie actually saved us money and he should be glad I went. “Not working justification” hash tag)
The whales are yanked out of their natural habitat in the ocean and put through training that can only be described as torture. They are ripped away from their mothers and families. They spend days in isolation or in small swimming pools being attacked by other frustrated whales in captivity. They develop mental disorders caused by greedy adults who want to parade these young creatures around for fame and financial gain.
Unfortunately, it drew quite the parallel to me to the world we live in today. I have seen one too many children put into environments that are not right for them. It is not just in showbiz, although I have seen firsthand kids in shows that do not belong there. It is a world with a lot of sitting around and being quiet. The only way a child can really and truly thrive in this environment is if they absolutely love it. It is not natural for young kids to sit for hours backstage; not running around and playing. They have to be professional in a time where they are naturally programmed to play.
Unfortunately, this is what I see everywhere. Kids in sports and after-school activities that require an unnatural amount of focus and dedication for a child. In Hollywood, the hot thing is to have kids as young as 14 graduate high school through equivalency tests so that they do not need on-set tutoring, nor are there limits on the hours they can work. They are therefore cheaper to hire for longer hours. This is why we are so hesitant as to what to do next for Sam. This is what we would be up against and it’s not something we think is emotionally healthy to do.
Craig and I went to parents night at Sam’s middle school which required us to go to 10 minutes of each of all of Sams classes. This made me realize 2 things: 1) I’m glad I didn’t date Craig in high school. He was extremely worried about being tardy. I, however, leisurely walked through the halls chatting with friends while he leaped out of his seat when the bell rang and ran to the nexr class. We would not have worked as a teenage couple.
The second thing I learned is that there is a reason why we go to school when we are young. I was exhausted at the end of the 1.5 hour night and could not concentrate on anything, let alone 7 subjects. Also, I no longer have a nice small perky tush that fits perfectly into those chair/desks.
We also attempted an adults night out with some parents of Kindergarteners in Aidan’s class, but went home early when we realized dinner started at 830. We were exhausted at the end of the pre-party at 800 pm. These young parents in their 30s party way too late for the 40 year old Primacks. We were way out of our element with the youngins.
And so, I am brought back to my young gifted self, who skipped Kindergarten and started 1st grade at age 5. Shy to begin with, I always felt out of place with the kids in my own grade, and I hated being known as the smart one, albeit with the future Showgirl. I do not blame anyone for this because at the time everyone was concerned I would be bored in Kindergarten. We are struggling with the same thing now with Aidan, who seems to be a 50 year old man accidentally placed in a 5 year old body.
Sometimes even though we really want to see our kids succeed in this competitive world, we really need to keep them in the environment that is best for their emotional health. I think that in the long run, being socially on the same level as our peers is more important than anything else.
As much as I enjoy the whale shows at SeaWorld, I will have to protest until they are set free. They need to swim and play with friends and family and grow up in an environment where they can be free, just like our own kids should do.
Until then, I will just sit at home and watch reruns of Saved By The Bell and wonder if her extra spelling words were harder than mine.