Saturday, September 06, 2008

Life Happens

Last year I was standing in the yard, watching a group of the kids chatting with each other, when I suddenly noticed that Ahuva was pregnant.

Ahuva was fifteen, a cousin of one of my other students, and had a lousy attendence record, and so far that was all I knew about her. Now I knew something else, as I noticed that she was developing a little bump and a new fullness and color to her face. I didn't know if she had told anyone. I made a note to talk to our office lady and see if she knew--she knew everything about the kids.

Next day, one of the moms stopped to talk to me about her son, and asked in passing if we were having a shower for the pregnant girl in the class. She had a lot of baby things from when her youngest was born, she explained, and she wondered if the girl might want them--nice things--and well, she hadn't known that one of the girls was pregnant, but her son told her--he was the girl's friend--anyway, if she could help out, please let her know. And that afternoon was the staff meeting, so I asked the pertinent question, "Is Ahuva pregnant?"

"Oh, yes," said the administrative director. Well, great. I mentioned, in passing, trying not to sound too tetchy, that I would have appreciated knowing that sooner, so that, say, I would know to give her bathroom passes more freely, and also, possibly, now that I knew, getting some information on due dates, and doctor's numbers, so that if the kid went into labor in the middle of my midterm I did not end up delivering the child on the filthy linoleum in my classroom.

It seemed to vaguely interest my coworkers that I saw this as a medical matter. There were some muted assurances that I would get some kind of information--if they could get it.I mentioned the idea of a baby shower, and the offer of hand-me-downs. The coworkers seemed disturbed by the idea. We didn't want to glorify teen pregnancy. I mentioned in passing that all babies need onesies and play saucers regardless of their mothers' ages, and that I didn't think any of our girls were going to get pregnant if they saw you got free Pampers in exchange, and let it drop. It bugged me, though. It was as though we thought that because she was too young to be pregnant we could act as though the pregnancy wasn't our community's problem, and believe me, we didn't take that attitude toward ANYTHING. This was a school that took obscene measures to meet our student's various stupid needs, but it actually hadn't occurred to anyone that a pregnant kid has different needs than a non-pregnant kid, or that it would be a good idea for us to meet with Ahuva and family and come up with a going-into-labor at school contingency plan. Or a having-a-baby-during-junior-year plan.

A week or so later, Ahuva's doctor put her on bedrest, and I never saw her again. I pray that the child is healthy, that Ahuva is happy, and that someone in her life is making her finish high school and go on to college.

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