I live in what we might call a nanny state. In many instances there are limits on internet access, there are very strict rules governing alcohol consumption because it’s a Muslim country, there are signs outside the mall entrances that list the codes of conduct. I don’t have to wear hijab and while it is suggested that you dress respectfully, no one polices the streets measuring hemlines or tells you to cover up your tattoos.
So I know, I know, what about the loss of personal freedom, what about individual choice, what about all that good stuff?
Look. I am totally a big fan of personal freedom, big fan of choice, never met an institution that I didn’t eventual come to dislike, including every school I’ve ever attended. I think Wendy Davis pretty much rocks it. She–and a few other women in Texas (Wendi Aarons, The Bloggess, the fabulous Erica M)–are the only reasons I can think to move to Texas.
But I digress. I want to point out that if a person were to have a pre-teen, or a teen-ager, raising that child isn’t all bad. Consider:
1. Limited internet access: thus no porn (although hypothetically if a person had an internet connection and a VPN at a person’s office….well… never mind).
2. No “inappropriate” youtube videos.
3. No underage drinking. And even above-age drinking gets handled differently: because the liquor laws are so serious here, any adult who goes to anywhere and plans to have even one glass of wine doesn’t then get behind the wheel of a car. People drive like lunatics here, but at least they’re sober lunatics.
4. No drugs. I mean, I suppose there are drugs somewhere, but among the teenagers and college kids I know? Not a thing. Why? Because if you’re caught with drugs you’re deported or thrown in prison. Simple as that. Now, don’t get me wrong: if a responsible adult would like to unwind with recreational pharmaceuticals, hypothetically speaking? Well, then, that person is a grownup and make his own choices. Do I want my almost-thirteen year old to “unwind” in the same way? Nope, no way, no, nada.
5. The streets are safe and the crime rate is low, so if a kid were to be walking home from somewhere at night, I wouldn’t worry…
6. Plus taxis are easily available and cheap. Darling Husband, who grew up in Manhattan in the dark years of the 1970s, remembers that when he was a teen-ager, he spent almost his entire allowance on cabfare back from friends’ houses at night, because to walk the streets of New York alone was to take your life in your hands.
7. Malls. Okay, malls aren’t entirely the “nanny state,”and mostly I hate malls because they make me feel like an overstimulated rat in a maze. But consider this fact: when it’s 120F in the shade (as it was today), where are your kids going to go when they need to get out of the house? The malls are huge and kids can roam at will, leaving you free to
spy on them do your errands. It’s a win-win!
So there you have it. The nanny state ain’t all bad.
And now, by virtue of this list, I’ve accomplished Day Two of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Challenge. Granted, it’s Day Four of the challenge, but at least it’s done. It’s Independence Day in the States and we’re celebrating a version of that here, too: today was (finally) the last day of school for my kids. Which means that, yes, their British school set them free on Independence Day. I love irony, don’t you?