- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 30, 2008

They say March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. What happened in between this year was something like a fox, at least around my house.

Here are some March highlights in the life of Amy, my fifth-grader:

• Visited orthodontist

• Participated in science fair

• Learned what prostitutes do for a living

Thank you, Eliot Spitzer, for that last little educational nugget.


I’m sure the former governor of New York, once a crusader for morality, didn’t mean to steal my daughter’s innocence like a fox in a … henhouse. How was he to know she would go on the computer to care for her Webkinz on the very day reports of his trysts with a call girl would be the featured headline on our Web browser’s home page?

This is one time I can’t blame the media. It really is a front-page story when a governor — not just any governor, but one leading a powerful state and doing so on a platform of anti-corruption — is caught using the services of a high-priced prostitute.

So it followed that opening the Web browser would lead to this headline:

“Call-girl ring trips up Spitzer — FBI probe threatens future of governor”

Hard as I try to shelter my children from the seedier side of life, American politicians seem determined to exploit my children’s experiences of childhood, or at least provide premature exposure to information they don’t really need.

From “I am a gay American” to “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” political leaders have offered up a host of opportunities to advance my children’s sexual awareness. Like those who came before him, I’m sure Mr. Spitzer didn’t mean for his “private matter” to have so many public consequences.

I’m equally sure no politician caught with his pants down thinks twice about the conversations we American parents are forced into thanks to their antics.

Amy thought the ex-governor had been tripped up in something like a Hula-Hoop. I’m betting Mr. Spitzer wishes that were true. Thanks to him, she now knows the difference.

What’s just as stunning is that Mr. Spitzer’s romps through the District have allowed his successor, Gov. David Paterson, on just his second day in office, to admit to a number of extramarital affairs during a “rocky” period of his marriage. Given the timing of his announcement just a week after we all learned about the Emperors Club VIP, an admission of serial affairs didn’t even seem that bad.

Then again, once I explained the essence of these stories to my daughter, at least we were able to adopt a new vernacular around our home. For example, when explaining to Amy why it’s not a good idea to sing along with songs on the radio that use the word “ho,” we now say, “Because ‘ho’ refers to the sort of woman hired by former governor Spitzer to entertain him in our nation’s capital.”

Talk about a dinner-table-friendly euphemism.

I suppose it’s unrealistic of me to hope that a 10-year-old girl could be sheltered from knowing about the “world’s oldest profession,” just as it’s unlikely I can keep her from scanning the headlines about all sorts of immoral or illegal acts.

Still, the wide-eyed shock on Amy’s face broke my heart just a bit as I explained what a “call-girl ring” is and that some people pay others for recreational sex. This information just didn’t fit with the wholesome moral lessons I have taught her about God’s gift of sexuality.

This week begins a new month, a new season. The lessons of the past weeks will fade into Amy’s growing awareness of life’s two competing forces: good and evil.

April can’t come soon enough.

In the month to come, as the weather grows milder, my daughter finally can get back outside to play in our yard, far from the siren songs of Internet headlines that slowly but surely are pitching her forward into a world beyond her innocence.

Columnist Marybeth Hicks, a wife of 20 years and mother of four children, lives in the Midwest. She is the author of “The Perfect World Inside My Minivan One Mom’s Journey Through the Streets of Suburbia,” a compilation of her columns. She uses her column to share her perspective on issues and experiences that shape families nationwide. Visit her Web site (www.mary bethhicks.com) or send e-mail to marybeth.hicks@comcast.net.

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