“Your Boy’s Different, Ms. Gump”

Last night, I went to the hospital to visit one of my students. She just had a baby. I teach seventh grade.

Throughout the visit, I could not keep myself from comparing the situation to the birth of my own kids last year.

My wife’s hospital room would have made most four star hotels look like an hourly rate airport inn. And for visitors to even get to it, they had to pass more security than the average pentagon employee.

Last night, though, I entered the hospital, walked past the orange jumpsuit clad patients from the local jails, and asked the receptionist where I could find my student. She told me, and I went and found her. That was it; anyone could have walked in there. As for the room, it had three beds in it, one of which was occupied by an evidently shameless woman who was on the phone loudly discussing plans to put her as yet unborn child up for adoption: “Look, all you got to do is sign the papers and that’s it, we can both be done with it. Shit.”

Our room was full of visitors from the git go, too. People, balloons, flowers, all kinds of stuff. Didn’t see any balloons last night.

I was thirty when our twins were born. When my student is thirty, her first child will be graduating from high school.

Our kids were born to parents who had already completed their educations, begun carreers, and established a home. This child is thirteen. The dad is in high school.

Still, as with our kids, everyone was healthy. Young as she is, it is evident that my student loves her baby. She does have family to help. Despite doing something incredibly stupid – getting pregnant at 13 – she is a bright kid. To me, this is the essential stuff.

I did not give her much of any advice, other than telling her not to worry about school for a while. But if I had, I think I would have told her that whether or not she likes it, her life is now very, very, very different than that of all her fellow seventh graders. Whether or not she and her baby will be happy depends, I think, on whether she can accept that difference. If she does what she can to be the best parent she can be, they’ll be o.k. Try to be a normal kid, though, and no-one is going to win.

Explore posts in the same categories: Teaching

One Comment on ““Your Boy’s Different, Ms. Gump””

  1. Dan Says:

    That’s whack. I don’t think we had any seventh graders getting pregnant when I was coming up, but there were obviously quite a few in high school. Most people that didn’t know them just wrote them off as a ruined life. I never really understood that. It isn’t the best situation (she still has to get through middle school) but you deal with it.

    Your advice is priceless, by the way. You should consider offering it.

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