Sunday, March 30, 2008

Column: A New Baby BOOM!

Oregon Daily Emerald - 04/24/01

By six o'clock Easter Sunday, I was in dire need of a nap. My muscles ached, my eyelids felt heavy and my bed seemed like an oasis. What had caused this state of exhaustion? A late night finishing up homework? No. Working a 13-hour shift waiting tables at the restaurant where I'm employed? No. The source of my physical and mental exhaustion was the afternoon spent with my family and, specifically, a small mass of children with a seemingly endless supply of energy.

My 8-year-old brother and four little cousins (ages 6, 7, 8 and 9) bounded from one activity to the other while my older cousins and I supervised and tried to catch up on the progression of our lives since the last family get-together. Overseeing the placement of candy and nickels and dimes into the plastic Easter eggs was a short-lived activity, as the kids' attention spans waned quickly and the giant trampoline beckoned to them.

Outside, I held my breath as the young'uns bounced crazily, and I hoped none of the flying little bodies would collide or fly right off the trampoline. Their jumping soon turned into a game of dog pile, and it seemed time for me to interrupt before someone got hurt. Of course, my presence on the trampoline failed miserably in terminating the game; instead, I turned into the subject of the dog pile. Pinned underneath five little kids, all laughing and pinching me, I seriously wondered how I was going to make it through the Easter-egg hunt with both eyes open.

Somehow I survived, and after my nap, I reflected on the day, wondering how parents find the energy to raise young children. I find that my own life takes all my energy, and I still never seem to have the time I would like to do everything I need. Put a few toddlers into the equation, and it spells mass insanity to me. Not to say that I don't love kids and plan on having a few (in about a decade), but how do young people cope with having children?

When I graduated from high school, roughly 20 girls out of my graduating class of 200 had kids -- yes, at 17 or 18 years of age, I think they are still girls. Our school had its own day care center just for the children of students. Needless to say, the term "kids having kids" seemed to fit. These young adults, few even old enough to vote, were responsible for the life of another human being when most of them still relied upon their own parents. Most couldn't legally buy a cigar to smoke in celebration of their child's birth.

When discussing the subject with several friends, the tales I heard were even more disturbing. One friend knew a 31-year-old woman with a two-year-old granddaughter! Apparently, the "grandmother" had a daughter at age 14 or 15, and in turn, her daughter had a child at the same age. I don't buy the excuse that kids are more mature these days -- if they were, they would know better than to have unprotected sex before they are old enough to drive with a learner's permit.

Another friend of mine has a niece, a 20-year-old girl, pregnant with her fifth child! Yes, at 20, she already has four kids, ages 4, 3, 2 and 1. To my understanding, she isn't trying to break the world record for childbearing (currently held by a woman with 65 children), but practices a religion which forbids the use of birth control. I guess that the idea that premarital sex is also forbidden was forgotten.

Don't misinterpret my puzzling to be a message for abortion or adoption, because it's not. I'm asking a question. Why are these children (now parents) forfeiting their childhood and young adulthood?

Where have we, as a society, gone wrong when a young mother is raising a Brady Bunch-sized family before she can legally buy the ingredients to make beer-battered fish and French fries? Shouldn't these teenagers learn to balance a checkbook and practice time management between school, a part-time job and a social life before they juggle day care and feeding schedules?

According to statistics from Planned Parenthood, 10 percent of girls age 15-19 in the United States are having kids, the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the developed world. Why? Maybe we're concentrating a little too much on telling teenagers not to have sex, not to have sex, not to have sex. It's pretty repetitious and obviously ineffective. Instead, we need to concentrate on promoting responsible sex.

After all, organizations such as the Student Health Center and Planned Parenthood don't distribute condoms just for freshman boys to blow up and pin to the walls of their residence halls.
Editor's note: As trampoline Professor Lani Loken-Dahle would attest, for no reason should there ever be more than one person on a trampoline, as this may result in severe injury or death.


Mamawheelie said...

My response, if you're so inclined (and it posts as I intend):
with the title of "Re: A New Baby BOOM!"

Dr Imran Khan MBBS said...

My 8-year-old brother and four little cousins (ages 6, 7, 8 and 9) \
I am impressed at your energy level