One year. One girl. WATCH THE PUBERTY HAPPEN.
For the record: I respect the time and effort Swidey put into this story. I think he probably has the best of intentions. Reporters don't spend enough time talking to 11-year-olds, and I hate to smack anybody for making a damn sincere effort on that front.
But for all the meticulously reported anecdotes, there's not much there there. Just a creeping miasma of doom. As young Adele shuffles along from games of tag to Urban Nutcracker performances to her painful-sounding peer "rap-around" session, the horror grows. [Cue the ominous strings.] Sex. It's coming for sweet little Adele. And it's gonna get her in the end.
Look, I've got a daughter, and I hope to God she doesn't have to learn the mechanics before she's good and ready. But enough with the fetishization of female cluelessness already. Swidey writes as though pink cellphones are the gateway drug to a life of utter moral depravity.
Philip Pullman, the author of the His Dark Materials series, has already said this better than I could, so I'm going to stand back and let him. Here he is in an interview with a writer from Surefish, a British Christian website, on his moral objections to C.S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia:
You're not alone in attacking Lewis but you are really vehement in your criticism. You've called his books 'detestable'. Why do you feel so strongly about them?
Because the things he's being cruel to are things I value very highly. The crux of it all comes, as many people have found, with the point near the end of the Last Battle (in the Narnia books) when Susan is excluded from the stable.
The stable obviously represents salvation. They're going to heaven, they're going to be saved. But Susan isn't allowed into the stable, and the reason given is that she's growing up. She's become far too interested in lipstick, nylons and invitations. One character says rather primly: 'She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown up.'
This seems to me on the part of Lewis to reveal very weird unconscious feelings about sexuality. Here's a child whose body is changing and who's naturally responding as everyone has ever done since the history of the world to the changes that are taking place in one's body and one's feelings. She's doing what everyone has to do in order to grow up.
Maybe one day she'll grow past the invitations and the lipstick and the nylons. But my point is that it's an inevitable, important, valuable and cherishable stage that we go through. This what I'm getting at in my story. To welcome and celebrate this passage, rather than to turn from it in fear and loathing.
Er, yes. What he said.