Today, my thoughts are in high gear about kids, kids with babies. The United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world. Teen pregnancy costs the United States at least $7 billion annually. I never considered educating myself on these statistics or any of the other information and articles that can be found on the 24,500,000, hits on the web. It just didn't seem to be a necessity, until the epidemic came to the small town of Parrsboro, population approximately 1600. Last year five young girls gave birth under the age of 17years, my own fifteen year old being the youngest of these.
I would never have thought my little girl would be a victim of teenage sex. Only months before her secrets were revealed, we were discussing intercourse. "I don't think I'll like sex." She told me. "I'm just going to do the deed to have kids and be done." I laughed at that time and told her sex, when you're older and married is one of the most beautiful intimate experiences one can have. I never considered the choices that were beginning to unravel for her that day. My baby, the lover, in our family, wanting steps and ex's to be her aunts and uncles. This is a girl who passionately loves her brother and sister. Yet one day, almost a year and six months ago, I'm looking at her prom pictures and something strikes me odd. She's holding onto Jon, her boyfriend with the strangest grasp. I try to convince myself that I'm exaggerating yet the picture provokes feelings of dread. The look I see on my little girl is not one of innocent abandon excited about prom. No. She seems weirdly attached, panicked… holding tight for…? I file my thoughts away and make a mental note to talk with Kerr later….
We're driving to Amherst, the closest town that has a Wal-Mart and a Dollar store. It's her brother's graduation and we are getting supplies for his party. I love the chance to travel with my kids. They're enjoyable, funny and nice. They're not perfect. They've had their share of poor marks, nights out too late, answering back but as my mother always shares with me, "They're good kids, they're not into drugs, and they haven't been arrested." I nod my head and acknowledge this to be true. In today's world raising kids is like navigating through a strong current of shark invested waters, every kind of temptation and vice, circling around waiting to take its bite. The pressures for kids are overwhelming. I breathe a sigh of relief, mom is right. My kids are for the most part doing OK. There is so much to feel blessed about.
I like listening to my kids share about their lives and the engaging way they share with me and one another. Today is no different. We're sharing about everything. Kerri has always been blunt. We talk about her sister in Hawaii and how well she's doing, her brother graduating and other small talk. Finally, she gets to a point, looking out the window, she says, "I don't know if I'm going to do well this year in school but next year for sure, I'm going to try my best. "
All at once I see an open door. I take this opportunity to bring up every reason why, in the past she has not done well. She was so obsessed with a boyfriend she should not even have, too much time playing WOW, more fixated on things she thinks she needs but does not, and finally, I throw in, "… and you can't fool me Kerri, I know you're having sex." Why I said that? I don't even know why, maybe it's just the compulsive intuition of a mother, or the signs that were never acknowledged, but felt. I would like to think it's the hopeful naiveté of thinking, "my child would never do that" and the confirmation of that making it reality. This was not the case.
"OK, mom, you want to know the truth?" "I'm pregnant, and I can't live with you anymore."
It's out now, as simple as that. No apologies, no remorse, stoic. I can't read anything in that sweet little face that looks rather bland at the moment. I don't think I could've at that moment anyway, a flood of emotions emanates from every human part of me, my head is throbbing, my heart is beating rapidly, every emotion my little girl should be feeling is transferred to me with that blank look. I pull over. It's times like these when one needs a better perspective on life. I'm a Christian, for goodness sake. Perhaps, something more productive would have been to pray at that moment. I should have asked a mighty God for direction, something; anything but at this moment only humanness prevails. I grab her head her hair and start pulling it and screaming, what have you done?!