Contrary to popular belief, teen pregnancy has its perks.
There’s really nothing more life altering, thrilling and poignant than to be expecting a baby when one should be expecting a high school diploma.
The lucky ones with the right last name and or happenstance opportunity, are surrounded by supportive people, 24/7 assistance, hair and make-up folks and they get to opt out of those pesky Chemistry and English classes or high school altogether if they so desire AND can get paid an enormous salary on a reality show or get to "dance with stars".
Not only that, if you play your cards right, people will soon come to know you as a quasi-celebrity, they will recognize your name and face and may ask for you autograph.
Someone’s been keeping those details a secret.
Its almost magical really. Other teens just like you can dream of their day in the teen pregancy spotlight. We haven't even mentioned the speaking engagements, limo's and media calls and the life happily ever after.
With all of this good stuff going on, who wouldn't want to be a teen parent?
I was thinking it would behoove us to tell some of the girls in the hood, barrio, trailer parks and the other middle class neighborhoods about this opportunity so they can prepare for their auditions as well. We could immediately improve the unemployment statistics nationwide and take many off of the government assisted social programs that so many despise. Since some of these unfortunate angels already meet the criteria for the job (under 18, baby on the way, uneducated, jobless boyfriends, family dysfunction and unemployed or underemployed), surely they can apply for their own shows too right? Or does this opportunity only apply to certain folks?
On a personal level, I wish someone would have told me about this life in 1979! Anyone could have clued me in when I was walking around my hood, in my purple Converse tennis shoes, my maternity jeans and lavender smock top wondering where my life was headed and my next can of Similac was coming from. Where the hell was the camera crew and my invitation to People magazine to pose on their cover?
Oddly, there were no contracts coming over my fax machine, “oh that’s right”, I didn’t have a fax machine. Anyway, this is a protest! Where is the back pay owed for years of missed opportunity on TV? I could have written a book while it was all still fresh on my mind. The media never showed up to my house after baby number one when I was fifteen and a half, or baby number two at age seventeen. No one came to photograph me and my cute daughters. No press arrived to watch me take my GED, graduate from college or to take a photo of my transcripts when I made the Deans List.
ABC News wasn’t at the gate when I started my first federal job at 19 or when I promoted up the corporate ladder in my correctional career and beat the odds. I couldn’t even get Joan Rivers to put the microphone in front of me after the first book was published with the first born daughter.
Not one call, press release or request from an editor to ask me to share my teen pregnancy story or invite me over to the studio to share. Why is that?
Did I live on the wrong side of the Russian fence? Does the rest of the world’s population of pregnant teen girls live on the wrong side of the tracks? Where is their PR person to help gain them notoriety and paychecks so they too can benefit from the brokeness and seriousness of the state of their lives?
I missed my proms, social interaction with my peers, going to football games. I missed the opportunity to grow up and be responsible for me. My wreckless behavior and lack of supervision didn't land me a TV show or book deal. I like most of the others in that situation, endured sleepless nights from colicky babies crying, late night diaper changes, and night feedings while studying red eyed for my GED. I cried more than I care to think about. My home didn’t have cameras. It had chaos on many different fronts complete with broken people and spirits.
There were no paychecks for my mistakes, only struggling, worry and character building situations. I was lucky though. I always had a place to live and divine intervention saw to it that I had the wherewithal to pull myself up from my bootstraps and dig deep, to keep going and make something of my life. Not because my family had the right last name, but because I knew I had to do something to save myself and my children. I also had a Mom who inspite of her own troubling life, loved me and helped me. She was gracious enough to teach me about a higher power to call upon when things got too rough.
My thoughts are, if we are going to highlight these situations and give others the opportunity to capitalize on their poor choices, and such difficult and life changing experiences such as teen pregnacy, we need to 1) keep it all the way real and 2) extend that opportunity to those on the other side of the tracks as well.
By Rhonda E. Frost
Causes Rhonda Frost Supports
American Red Cross, Hosea Feed the Homeless and Hungry, Battered Women's Shelters