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by the sea

The Age of the Young and the Pregnant

Date: Nov-26-00

I read an article in a magazine earlier today, it was talking about how everything parents do is for their children and the differences in childhood between then and now. I wonder how someone who hasnít experienced the two forms of childhood can compare the two.

My childhood was well letís say, indifferent. I wasnít one of those kids that had everything that they desired yet; I didnít miss out a whole lot.

Iím 20, tomorrow. Iíve moved house twice, from the city to the country and back again. When I say city I donít mean Melbourne or even Geelong, the place Iím talking about has a population of just below 30,000 last time I checked the sign on the way into town. I donít pass it much anymore so I couldnít be sure.

Itís an okay place to live, quaint wouldnít quite describe it. Itís not like those fictional towns such as "Pearl Bay" or "Mount Thomas" that we see portrayed on our TV screens each week, nothing as exciting as natural disasters or ridiculously high crime rates happen here. But, there is a beach and a Police Station. We do, however, have an unusually high teenage pregnancy rate. No, Iím serious. Iíve been out of secondary school about 2 years now and last week a friend and myself were counting the number of girls that have had a child since we left. We counted about a dozen, give or take. That wasnít including fathers, terminations, or the two other secondary schools, or any other year levelsÖ amazing. It just goes to show that what weíre being taught about "safe sex" isnít sinking in at all.

If our parents cast their minds back to when they were 20 I doubt that they could recall a handful of friends that had become pregnant.

We take it in our stride now and that scares me, there is no way that I could bring up a child. For starters I donít have a man in my life (but when has that mattered?), I still live at home and I get sick of my pet cat. Sure, sure if I was thrown unexpectedly into the situation Iíd probably go through with it but just trying to imagine my self with a screaming baby, dirty nappies and bills coming out of my ears makes me squirm, yech.

Iím in two minds as to whether to have the utmost respect for the teenagers that successfully bring up a healthy and happy baby. Or whether to turn my back on those faltering and struggling along and think to myself "serves you right." But every case has an exception Ė rape, religious reasons etcÖ to each his own.

What bothers me is the fact that a percentage of those girls would have been "caught out" on their first time, or been drunk Ė you know how it is, youíre drunk at a mates party and thereís this really hot looking guy thatís been flirting with you all night. So you nick around the back for a bit of a pash and soon enough one thing leads to another and both yours and his pants are around your ankles and youíve gone further than you ever think you would. Sure it seems right at the time, this guy is the one for you. But youíre drunk, and everything seems like the right thing to do. Fifteen minutes later itís all over and his doing up his zipper and heading back inside to go and brag to his mates about what an easy score you were.

Itís then that you sober up and realise youíve just made the worst mistake of your life, youíre never going to see him again. Now youíve got to wait a couple of agonising weeks to see if the only period youíll ever look forward to is going to come, and then it doesnítÖ

I wonder just how many young girls this has happened to and I thank god that it hasnít happened to me and I realise just how lucky I am. I have just my cat and myself to worry about and thatís enough for now.

In a few short months, Iíll hopefully be moving to the "big smoke", as my grandmother would say. Iím escaping, getting out (before I end up pushing a pram, as my friends would joke), Iím going back to University to get myself an education, I donít just want a job, I want to know that Iíve pushed myself to my limits and achieved everything Iím capable of. And I think that I can do that. I know that I can do that. And I will.