Monday, April 28, 2014

Not A Teen Mom

My friend Esme is ageless. At least, that's the only explanation I can think of. At age ten her sister, Bridgette, was born. For those of you who don't know, ten year olds are scrawny creatures about four feet tall. Yet somehow Esme got mistaken for Bridgette's mother.
Okay, I understand that there are a few freak cases where ten year olds have given birth. But that's not normal, people. Fourth graders are just in the beginning stages of puberty. They shouldn't be having kids. They shouldn't get glares from people at the grocery store for being a "teen" mom.
Even if a teen girl does have a baby, don't you think she's seen enough glares that she doesn't need any from you? Besides, you have no idea how she acquired that child. Pregnancy does not equal promiscuity.  In-wedlock pregnancies are certainly ideal, but in a country where over 40% of babies are born to unmarried parents, why is there so much stigma about being an unwed teen mother?
Okay, rant over. Now let's fast forward a few years. Esme is fifteen and Bridgette is in kindergarten. She and her mom go to check Bridgette out of school. Esme's wearing Bridgette's backpack for her. The office secretary takes one look at them and asks her mom, "Are you checking your daughter in? What class?"
Age ten: Baby mama. Age fifteen: Sixth grader.
Now she's sixteen. Over Spring Break, Esme, Bridgette, and their dad (notice the mom is missing here) went to a park and cuddled baby chicks. The events people wanted to take their picture to put online as an advertisement. The photographer asked Bridgette, "Will you go stand by your mom and dad?"
Their dad is fifty one. Even if she were some twenty one year old stepmother, that's a huge gap. Why are adults so off-kilter about guessing young people's ages? I'm tempted to blame the media, as teenagers are usually portrayed by actors in their mid to late twenties, giving adults a warped perception of what we actually look like. But shouldn't adults know what teenagers look like from life? Even if they don't have teenaged children, even if they don't work with teenagers everyday, even if they don't volunteer with church youth groups, surely they've seen a few. Don't they have neighbors and nieces and nephews?
Don't jump to conclusions when you see a young woman with her "daughter" or "husband". You never know until you ask, and if it's not important enough to ask about, then it's not important enough to know.

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