T and A for the Middle Schooler

Source: google.com via Sara on Pinterest


I had to laugh.

The email from my 8th grader’s English teacher, which I’m pretty sure was sent because it was required of him, gave parents an opportunity to remove their child from class during the viewing of the 1968 film, Romeo and Juliet. The reason for concern: a few seconds of sexless nudity. A glimpse of Romeo’s behind; a brief peek at Juliet’s breasts. That’s all.

I almost deleted the email when I finished reading.  But then I remembered that I tend to be more permissive about exposing my children to “inappropriate” things than many parents, my husband included, so I forwarded the email on to him asking his thoughts.

Now hubby is a busy man and doesn’t always reply to my emails in a timely fashion. Sometimes (like when he doesn’t want to do what I ask of him) my emails even get “lost.” But not this time. He wrote right back immediately. “Doesn’t bother me.”

So I thought that was the end of thinking about this. Until I was talking with eavesdropping on some mothers of boys in my daughter’s class. They were concerned with how the boys would behave, with how boys and girls would feel being together while seeing these few seconds of T and A. I held my breath. Are suburban parents (myself included) living in a bubble?

Any day of the week, our children can see more skin than they would see during this movie. All they have to do is open their eyes, which they do because they can’t help it. It’s hard to get anywhere without looking where you’re going. What do they see? Women in low-cut blouses. Girls in short short skirts. It’s in the fashion magazines, on the small and big screen, in the mall and at the beach. I’m not saying I approve or disapprove of the amount of skin being shown regularly in our culture. What I’m saying is: what good does it do to prevent our teenagers from watching ten seconds of nudity in a movie that will be discussed in a classroom setting, with a teacher there? It may be awkward for the kids for a moment but that awkwardness helps them learn to manage in uncomfortable situations. It can be a teaching moment. Or at the very least, a learning moment.

I know many people don’t agree with me, but I don’t think our kids will be prepared for life if we keep protecting them from experiencing things that make them or us  uncomfortable.

The other day, my sister posted this photo on Facebook. Which would you prefer your child to see in a restaurant or on TV? Which one makes you more uncomfortable?


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8 thoughts on “T and A for the Middle Schooler

  1. Ahhh – Remember seeing that movie on a field trip and falling in LOVE with Derek Jacobi ~ always wanted my girls to see that version. No problem at all. They’re fortunate to see such a great production. As for the T&A, we all have a’s and a little more than half of us have t’s. As long as they’re not associated with violence, or sexploitation, I have no problem with either. Great article. And your pic is on the money. K.

    1. Thanks Karen. A wonderful movie, indeed. And yes, we all have our As (some of us have a little too much :)) and half of us have our Ts. Nothing shameful there.

  2. I think you made the right call, Sara. Kids are exposed to way worse. At least Romeo and Juliet is art. I would much rather my children were exposed to that than say, Jersey Shores or any of the endless MTV shows about teen pregnancy… Your title for this one cracks me up.

    1. Or everyday sitcoms. My husband and I are still looking for one that isn’t about sex – the thinking about it, the trying to get it, the having got it. I’m definitely not against sex; I just feel like it overpowers some more interesting themes. Okay. Off my soapbox. That’s what a blog’s for, right? Glad you like the title. It makes me giggle.

  3. We have three children — a girl age 14, and two boys ages 12 and 9. I learned a long time ago that each child is different — and then I learned that each child has a different tolerance for T&A. Our older two went through the normal interest of the body parts, and at 14 and 12 are coming back around to it again — but our youngest is very sensitive to it. We learned many years ago (he was 2 when I first recognized it) to be much more alert and protective of his heart. We can’t put him in a bubble, and I don’t want to overprotect him from the world. But while what the world portrays may be common, it doesn’t have to be normal for us. We’ve encouraged modesty in our daughter and our boys, we avoid the mall after school hours (as much for traffic and drama as the common dress code) and when we are watching something that includes sensual themes, we are there with them to help our kids put it into a bigger context. As you point out in your comments, Sara — sometimes the cheap & easy topic covers up the more interesting or sometimes more important themes going on under the surface.

    1. Thanks for such a thoughtful response. I think it is admirable the way you are consciously bringing up your children. What I was trying to say and may not have said clearly enough is that while the world is full of “common” things, the nudity in this film is not connected to anything ugly and yet our school feels compelled to “WARN” us about it. I’m uncomfortable that this type of brief, inoffensive (in my mind) nudity is in many ways being labeled as “inappropriate” in the same way that something sexual or violent would be labeled as “inappropriate.”

  4. You’ve entitled your piece T & A for the Middle Schooler. The T’s area fine with me, but the A’s are not shown. I do not like to see thongs exposed by low jeans, especially when bent over–not a good example for teens–just my preferences.

    1. I completely agree about the thongs. In the movie I reference, the A shown was a young man’s as he climbed out of bed. That was not so offensive, I think.

So what do you think?