a few weeks ago when *h and i had our whirlwind trip into detroit we did something we rarely do: we went into several bookstores.

generally speaking, *h is a kindle guy, and i am a big gigantic fan of libraries. there are very very few books that i actually want to own (i know i have mentioned in the past that i have a serious aversion to feeling like i live in a space that is cluttered, even with something as awesome as books), and i have a visceral aversion to “window shopping”.

but when we fly places, one of the treats we indulge in (we meaning me, since *h now packs the aforementioned and fully loaded kindle) is to buy actual reading material to take on the plane. i used to take library books on vacation, but after once losing a book and once having a book ruined, i decided to be a big shot and just consider it part of the expense of the trip to keep me happy and entertained…

on the way to detroit i bought a book in the airport bookstore. it was a great book, but it took several hours before the sticker shock of paying that much for a book wore off… (hummm- do i date myself here? i dunno, i guess i just haven’t bought a full-priced book in quite a while… but it was a super guilty-pleasure read, so i guess it was worth it! for those curious sorts among you, it was a lee child book. anything with the character jack reacher is brain candy, and highly entertainingšŸ™‚ )

so in preparation for our return flight we went to a bookstore in detroit (okay, a suburb of detroit) that used to be a borders store. when i walked in, there was a huge display saying, if you liked this book _________________________ (insert name of book, which i won’t advertise here), then you might like these: and there was a whole rack of books. i had never heard of the main book, and they looked vaguely sci-fi/fantasy, which isn’t my thing- and anyhow i was headed toward the discount stuff- hahahaha… but then there was another similar display nearer to the back, and then a HUGE display of this book and books in the series of this book. it’s apparently won awards and is pretty mainstream, and you’ll see why i mention this in a second… so i picked it up to see what it was (most of my kids are avid readers, so i’m always wondering what is popular…).

and it was pretty much soft core porn.

this is me giving it the benefit of the doubt that it isn’t even worse than soft, because honestly i got really embarrassed once i realized what it was, and i felt like if someone walked by and saw me looking at it that i would be pretty ashamed.

so, here i was, in the middle of a totally regular suburban bookstore that i would have felt completely comfortable sending my kids in to browse around in. it would never have occurred to me that this would be a place i would have had to worry about what they would be exposed to, or a place where i would have to lurk around them to watch what they were picking up.

worse than that, it was a series- and then displays of other series- that gave no indication that this stuff should be off limits.

i remember when people used to have to go into back rooms to look at this sort of thing. at least then you knew what you were in for and people knew to keep kids out. there was the concept that one had to be a certain age (and hopefully a corresponding maturity level) before they were emotionally ready to process specific types of information.

i know that society today has taken down one boundary after another. i see the way some parents let their kids behave/dress/present themselves and i want to cry. no, not scream- really cry! because i am so sad that this child will get to an age where they have a whole pile of regrets because no adult protected them from decisions they were too young to make for themselves. children don’t understand long-term implications of things, partly because they don’t have enough life behind them to see things play out. so when adults shirk protective roles in order to be in a friend role, or in the guise of “letting kids experiment” or “make their own mistakes” i just wonder what went wrong for them that they would think this is the proper role of a responsible adult.

i know this isn’t a very en vogue thing to say in many circles, but i really think society has to do a better job of looking out for our children…

adults have every right to read what they want and to express themselves in their writing.

stores exist to make money and they need to do it better than their competitors in order to stay in business.

but to put such blatant displays of such intense material (which, by the way has incredibly emotionally charged concepts as well, that i don’t think kids should be dealing with…) out in the open with no warnings about what the books contain just was not a responsible way to go.

what you do in the privacy of your own home is your private business.

but what people do out where children could stumble into it concerns me to the point where i am still thinking about it, all these weeks later…

what do you think?