Column: Realities of parenthood would be best sex ed
If you want to make teenagers think twice about having unprotected sex, all you really need is access to the Facebook posts of young parents.
That would give you a constantly growing feed of stories of the horrible discoveries and misadventures that children entail, enhanced by the “tell me about it” responses of all these young parents’ friends who had children first.
And it’s not just the potty-training tales of woe that would stop a teenager dead in her tracks – though envisioning a young mother walking into the nursery to discover a wall finger-painted with diaper contents surely would do it.
The stories portray a depth of change in people’s lives that no childless young person could imagine.
A young woman I know wrote on Facebook last week about trying to find her keys, last seen in the possession of her infant daughter, who enjoys playing with them more than any toy.
“Going on Hour Two of the search. Found: Miscellaneous trains, old name tags, never-used pacifiers and lots of Cheerios. Not found: Keys.”
The comments that followed that post attest to the everyday chaos of parenthood. Another young mother wrote, “Can she open the fridge? If so look in there and in all the toilets.”
Another: “Did you look in any and all trash cans?”
Another: “This happened to me recently ... found them in a closet where robin had slid them under the door ... never thought to look there because she can't open that door knob.”
Another: “Haley always hides things in one of three places ... mailbox, garbage, or vents. I have found soo much random stuff under my registers.”
And another: “Good luck. We still haven't found the remote control for our ceiling fan and it's been 2 months.”
And yet another: “Check behind the toilet and in your laundry baskets. Those are Joey's hiding places of choice.”
This is typical of what happens whenever a young parent writes about a new discovery of how his or (usually) her life is never going to be the same – an expression of bewilderment, followed by hours of commiseration by others who have variations on the tale.
These are not tales of great horror. The details are mundane – but it is the ordinariness of what in their lives has changed that could make a huge impression on a carefree, unfettered young person. Confronting teens with them would be like "Scared Straight," the program that was intended to show troubled youth what their future could be like by putting them in a jail cell with actual inmates, but in many ways this might be scarier.
A different young mother: “Nothing like having your flight delayed JUST as you're boarding with the 9-month-old in your arms.”
A young father of three, summing up the difference between having one child and having three: “The only difference between one and three is the workload and the sanitation standards. One goes up while the other goes down.”
The horror. The horror.