Growing up through various means

Some people come from families where they are forced to grow at a very young age. Some obvious examples are not normally practiced in the United States, such as arranged marriages, but there are areas in America that force children to grow up too young, such as families that may not have a responsible parental figure in the house, or families that need more money to survive. Many times, in instances like these, the children of the family are forced to step up and act in adult ways in order to keep themselves alive, especially if there are siblings in the house usually the responsibility falls on the oldest sibling. In Octavia Butler’s Bloodchild, the main character, Gan, is also forced to grow up too young and act in adult ways, even when he is very unsure of the outcome. I myself can relate to Gan as I was entering college and having to make big adult decisions when I had just turned 18, and from the standpoint of being a child that had to grow up way too young.

In Bloodchild, on a planet that is Earth-like but is not Earth, there’s a preservation where humans, called terrens, live among an alien like species, the tilc. The tilc cannot reproduce on their own, which is why they live together with the terrens in a partnership. Within this partnership, the tilc of the household provides protection and sterile eggs, and the terrens of the house must give one child up to be the host for the tilc eggs. Bloodchild specifically tells the story of the main character, Gan, and his family. Gan was selected before he was even born to be the child that would one day be the host and grew very close to the tilc, T’Gatoi. Gan knew what was expected of him because he was told about it and shown diagrams depicting what would happen to him. Despite this, Gan still did not fully understand the procedure he was going to go through. Gan soon realized the horrors of what he was going to go through when Gan decided to stay and help T’Gatoi perform a procedure and saw firsthand the painfulness of it all. Aiding T’Gatoi in this process that he was soon about to endure himself made him grow up and think in adult ways before he even would have had to. After seeing T’Gatoi take the eggs out of the terren, Gan took out their contraband rifle and was going to end his life to avoid this process being done on himself. When T’Gatoi found him, she wanted to get rid of the rifle which is when Gan stated “…if these are adult things, accept the risk. There is risk, Gatoi, in dealing with a partner”. This  quote shows that Gan has thought through this process he is about to have done, and has decided that he will follow through with it as long as T’Gatoi accepts the risk of having the rifle stay in the house, just as Gan is accepting the risk of pain while hosting T’Gatoi’s eggs. Even though Gan seeing the procedure on someone else was not supposed to happen, he learned from it and came out more mature.

Though not every family experiences instances where the children have to act as adults, and most children can live out their childhood at a somewhat normal pace, lots of children in America are forced to give up some aspects of their childhood and teenage years in order to keep the family going. My own case of having to grow up at an early age was not that of an irresponsible parent or a family that was not making enough money. Instead, what forced me to grow up too fast was my mother’s health. Starting when I was only in fourth grade, I was cooking simple meals for my siblings and helping them with homework because my mom had (and continues to have) many health issues, and therefore was frequently in the hospital for months on end. It initially started with just cooking, cleaning, and helping occasionally with homework, but as I got older, during the short periods that my mother was out of the hospital, I then added changing her bandages and preparing her IV bags for her PIC line when she couldn’t eat to the list. Though I didn’t mind helping out- because I knew if my mom could be home she would- and I know my siblings appreciated me stepping up, I was still forced into growing up way too young and forced to things that other children my age would likely not even know about. Every year, until about tenth grade, I found myself cooking, cleaning, and tutoring more than hanging out with friends or playing games. In a way, I feel like these experiences I had helped me be more mature than people my age even today, which I am thankful for. These experiences also help me relate bloodchild back to my own life and college as well. Similar to Gan, I was told about and shown the things I had to do to help my mom out with her bandages, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to do it all on my own, which is similar to how Gan reflected on his situation after seeing what was going to happen to him.

The process of learning and then maturing is one that many college students can relate to. The day that students apply to SUNY Geneso, they must start abiding by the code of conduct-specifically the portion relating to student conduct. The student conduct documents lay out a list of rules these incoming students must adhere to and come along with consequences if they do not. For some students, they have just turned 18 and this is the first time they are being treated as an adult. The student code of conduct therefore gives them a model for how they should be behaving. Though they may not be considered growing up too young since they are now technically adults, being on their own and having these guidelines forces them to truly grow into the adults they are already classified as. While most of the rules in the code of conduct includes laws that people generally know they should not break, there are other ones that are more college-based and aim to shape the students into adults such as the category of “disruption of regular college activities”, various forms of “dishonesty”, “theft or abuse or computer resources”, and “incitement of others to commit any of the acts prohibited.” Most of these are not exactly illegal to go against at the state level, but they do aim to shape the students at SUNY Geneseo into adults that capable of good judgement, which is a positive outcome of student’s awareness of it.

Though college students are technically already adults, the code of conduct makes sure the students mature into the adults they are labeled as, just as children can mature faster than others due to their circumstances at home, and just as how I was affected regarding my mother’s health. The same process is shown as Gan watches T’Gatoi harvest eggs out of a different terren. A reoccurring idea that is proved throughout all these examples are that some situations in life are inevitable. Although the pace in which others like Gan are forced to travel towards maturity may seem unfair, giving acceptance towards such inevitable situations, rather than dwelling on it, is what enables others to grow more- and at their own pace.

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