"Oh, the places you'll go!" wrote Dr. Seuss.
I never knew he was talking to us parents.
About a week ago, I was in the most unlikely place you'd expect to find me-- in an enormous regional mall, surrounded by over a thousand excitable teenaged girls, awaiting the arrival of five fairly well-known fellows (in this set, anyway) called Harry, Zane, Louie, Niall and Liam. Otherwise known as the British pop boy band sensation that is sweepin' the nation-- One Direction.
Doesn't matter how it came to be, just that through some very clever marketing my daughter (a very sensible, non-groupie-type who happens to have a bit of a crush on the dark-haired guy) and her friends had already been persuaded to:
For five hours. For a signature and about 15 seconds of face time.
What struck me hardest was the power these boys (average lads with nice singing voices and good hair) had over the girls. At odd moments, a rolling shriek would arise as someone imagined a sighting; it would die off as quickly as it started. When the actual signing started (not even accompanied by any actual singing) I watched the girls coming back from their moment in the sun in various states of emotional distress/radiance. It was not a little disturbing, seeing the power perfect strangers had over them emotionally. Not all of them are loved and protected and secure. Even the ones who are, are intensely vulnerable at that age and stage of development.
As parents we can never forget, even when our teenagers do their utmost to convince us that they need us for nothing but credit cards and rides, just how important it is to be their emotional touchstone. To make sure that they know well we are always there to listen, even if we don't understand. To protect them, even when they don't want it. To love them, even if they try deperately not to deserve it.
The One Direction boys seems quite nice. But do we really want to leave our daughters vulnerable to whether they are or not?