Is This Thing On?

The auditorium is completely dark.
The audience sits in anticipation.
There is shuffling of feet.  A cough.  A few sniffles.
Everyone waits, unsure as to why they are even here in the first place.
And then?  A single spotlight shines on the stage illuminating what appears to be a soapbox.
From off stage, I walk slowly and climb up carefully onto the soapbox.
I tape the microphone that is set up for me…
Um.  Hi.  Is this thing on?
Um, like I said.  Hi.
I don’t usually use this platform for soapbox speeches, but I feel compelled today, so I thank you all for being here.
I need to talk about teen pregnancy today.
There is a lot of the pregnant going on in the teen world.  And I am not Ok with it.
In fact, I am all kinds of upset about it.  Remember, I am a teacher.  I am witnessing 14 year olds becoming parents.
FOURTEEN YEAR OLD CHILDREN HAVING CHILDREN.
Sorry, I had to yell that because that is what I am dealing with.  How do I respond to these students?  Huh? What do i say?
I’m sorry?
Bummer, dude?
Congratulations?
Holy ham sandwiches?
So I just give them a shocked look.  Although I don’t think that helps anyone.
And then of course they ask me tons of questions because they know I have a toddler.  I don’t mind sharing (you all know that), but really?  Why are they not asking their MOMS?
I try to let these girls know how sad it is to have to give up your childhood at 14.  I didn’t give mine up until 31 (some would say I am still holding it close).  My most crazy and fun time was my 20’s!  they won’t have that!  they will have have high schooler before they are thirty.
How did this happen?  I thought I had it figured out.  I thought it was just the girls who came from homes where no one was educating them or talking to them or monitoring what they were doing.
But then I heard of other pregnancies.  Of ones from kids whose parents I KNOW talk to them and expect college and academic success from.  Who have high standards, but not impossibly high standards.
So what is it?  Why did I not end up a teen mom, but these girls are?
I tried to think about how my parents talked to me…um, they didn’t.  I don’t remember one solitary conversation about respecting my body or to not do anything that could get me pregnant.
I vaguely remember a trip to the library when my youngest brother was “in the oven” about how babies get in and out of mommies’ tummies.
I remember my parents being skeptical of boys.
I remember purity crap they tried to feed us in school and church because they weren’t allowed to talk about any other prevention.  I also remember girls getting pregnant with that purity promise on their finger.
Why? What is the difference between the success stories and the teen moms?
Luck?
I can tell you my not getting pregnant was not luck.  I somehow had it ingrained in me that I was better than that.  That I was worth more than that.  I didn’t have a ton of self-confidence or self-esteem.  I was mocked relentlessly in middle school for acne problems, but even when the boys started noticing me in high school?  I never gave in.  I dated, but I didn’t make babies.
Why?
I don’t have an answer to that.
But I wish I did. I wish I knew what to say to those girls I teach to make them know they have so many options other than that guy.
I want to be able to teach Eddie NOT to pressure girls or to BE pressured by girls (let’s face it, they are as much to blame as the dudes.  Girls are not just innocent victims here).
I want him to respect all people’s bodies including his own.  Look but don’t touch.
How do I do this?
And then back to my current problem…how do I show these girls support without condoning what has been done?
If I help them out and get all their work together and ask them how they are feeling, I get accused of supporting what has happened to them.
If I show any sort of hint of disapproval, I am accused of being all judgey and cold.
I feel sorry for these girls.  I want better for them.  But I feel sorry for those babies too.  Is this going to be a cycle?  Are they going to grow up lacking some sort of self-awareness or self-esteem too?
Or maybe that is not even it.  I know girls who got pregnant in high school and they love their life and everything is great.  And they wouldn’t change it.
But…
I still see teen pregnancy as a problem. I do.
Does this make me bad and judgey?
But I want to help those who get pregnant succeed.
Does this make me condone teen shenanigans?
Help!
I want to fix this problem.
Because, yes.  it is a problem.  Teen pregnancy is a HUGE FLIPPING PROBLEM! And so is not knowing how to handle it!
And you know what?  I am going to flip it off for my Friday Flip-offs.
Whew.  There.
Thank you for listening to this rant.  I needed to get that out.
I nod one last time at the audience and then cautiously climb off the soapbox.
I turn one final time unsure of which way to exit.
I smile sheepishly and trot quickly off stage.
The spotlight is cut.
There is a pause.  And then?
Applause.

Kludgy Mom is the brainchild behind the flip-offs and Momma Kiss has been hosting the link up.  Go forth and read the vents.

Missing the Silly

This is it.

Summer is officially over.

I know, I know.  Good old “Kyle” on Storm Team8 claims we are entering into a big old heat wave and temperatures are going to soar into the 90’s.  I realize this SOUNDS like summer is still here.  But it is not.

Tonight (Monday), I start teaching.  Monday and Wednesday nights I will be teaching a composition class at Grand Rapids Community College.

Also this week?  Meeting start at my high school teaching job.  And students will be back in the desks the day after labor day.

I will be logging more than 60 hours a week with driving and working combined.

Every day I will leave before my little buddy is awake.

Two nights a week I won’t return until after he is sleeping.

I will see even less of Cortney because he too is starting classes.  He will be in class Monday and Thursday evenings.  And he will be gone bowling Tuesday evenings.

We will go from being a family of three who sees each other from sun up to sun down every single day, to being a family of 3 who is only together on weekends.

I really, REALLY wanted to blog about something else.  Something more cheerful.  Especially since I was able to find my bond with my little boy (as posted about yesterday…in the post below this one).

How overjoyed was I?  And now?  I feel like I am being ripped away.

Our family has had such fun, silly moments that we totally would have missed out on if we didn’t have all this time together.

Today for instance, my child decided to…

wear a box on his head and walk into things.
place his sippy IN a bucket and drink it this way (he is going to be AWESOME in college, by the way).
And pull his diaper almost completely off while standing and watching Little Einsteins.
And then?  When he noticed that WE noticed what he was doing?  He thought he could distract us by “dancing it out.”  For your viewing pleasure:

How in the world can I go back to work?  I am going to miss so much fun and so much silly!

Eddie is on the verge of saying some REAL words….

He is getting so funny and so crazy…

We have developed a bond…

Cortney and I have just figured out to co-exist at home all day with each other AND still like each other…

I know all the positives about starting school and getting into a routine and making some extra money for my family.

I know this. 

But I am also acutely aware of what I will be missing.

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