Object Lessons In Birth Control For Teens

by Nicole Leigh Shaw
Originally Published: 

I’m a mother on a mission. I want all teens to know that sex can lead to babies and that babies are the third worst thing to bring home from a hot date, right after STDs and regrets. That’s why I’m launching an initiative I just made up, called “Teaching Teens That Babies Are Just Terrible.” We will call it TTBJT, which is convenient because it has “BJ” in the middle—which definitely does not cause babies—but I’m not advocating for BJs either, so let’s just say I’m still working on a title for my movement.

Generally, I’m not all that fussed about who has babies unless, of course, it’s me having babies or if those babies end up abandoned and unloved and eating Ring Pops at 6 months old. Six-month-old babies should not have Ring Pops. They could choke. Give them Pixy Sticks. This is just one of the things I could teach teens.

I was a teen once, and I had sex during the years I will call “too stupid to know that sex is supposed to feel good emotionally and physically and too desperate to be loved to make smart choices.” Also, I was hormonal and the other “H” word that means “twittterpated”—which is Disney-speak for “horny,” and there, I’ve gone ahead and said the “H” word. Are you happy now? We are all uncomfortable thinking about horniness. I might as well toss “moist” and “panties” into the fray, and none of us will eat lunch because now we are all nauseated. Which, it turns out, is another downside to pregnancy: nausea. Take notes, teens.

My point is, like crabs and urinary tract infections, babies were not something that seemed real when I was having sex in high school. At least, babies that came out of my own uterus didn’t seem possible.

To teach us about the gravity of parenthood, my school had us care for a raw, decorated egg (yarn for hair!) and partner with a boy who inevitably smashed the egg on the sidewalk for funsies when the project was over, and that’s exactly why girls should not make babies with boys. Or maybe we cared for a sack of flour, I can’t remember. Either way, we carried our baby foodstuffs around for a week my sophomore year and pretended that it was an actual child, but we all know that flour and eggs are pancakes, not infants. Nice try, public school.

A more realistic experiment baby would be a 7-pound Water Snake Wigglies toy with a slow leak. Attach a grapefruit to a Slinky Jr. and then tape that onto the top of the Water Snake with Scotch tape. Now your baby has roly-poly head, just like in real life. Finally, have the surrogates put a malfunctioning smoke detector in their pillows and tell them to “sleep when the baby sleeps.”

© Courtesy of Nicole Shaw

But baby flour sacks have been the ineffectual norm for years. I imagine it was my mother’s own failed flour-baby experience that prompted her to have my sister and brother nearly two decades after I was born. Because of her forethought, when my little sister was 12, I gave her a preemie niece, and now she’ll probably become a nun just to avoid baby-making coitus. Because nothing is scarier than a real baby. Not a picture of herpes under a microscope, not even your own mother asking you to put a condom on a cucumber. You know what prevents teens from having babies? Babies do.

That’s why, for a week every summer until they were old enough to refuse to be de facto au pairs, I invited my brother and sister to come stay with me and my fledgling offspring (I have four now, because I’m very dedicated to TTBJT).

I’m happy to have done my part for my brother and sister. My children have successfully kept my siblings off the teen-parent track for the last 10 years just by being themselves. Services they provided included: diaper blowouts, projectile vomiting, teething, tantrums, and not least of all, making my brother and sister look like a teen-parents couple in public just because they were near my kids.

You may not have access to small children or to teens, but if you’d like to be a part of my movement, you won’t let that stop you. The mall is a great place to solicit help. Engage a gaggle of teens by asking them to change your overgrown 3-year-old’s poopy diaper while explaining that flushing toilets gives him anxiety. That’s why, even though he produces man-sized poo, he’s still in diapers.

If you have teens but no babies, join a mommy-and-me music class. Ask the baby mothers if they would like to leave their precious children with your moody, sulking 14-year-old for a round of “Skinamarinky Dinky Dink.” Celibacy guaranteed!

If you’ve been banned from the mall or Kindermusik, try these stand-ins:

– Let your high school junior play Candy Land and Chutes and Ladders with poo-throwing monkeys.

– Have your 17-year-old carry a puppy around for two hours, but don’t allow them to put the puppy down until it has urinated on them.

– Put a small portion of real feces in a bowl of Cocoa Puffs. When your freshman eats it, tell him that every parent inadvertently eats baby crap and you hope they enjoyed their cereal.

– Wake your teens up every 75 minutes between 12 and 5 a.m. and make them undress and redress a cat. Also, feed the cat a bottle.

I’m sure you can make up your own scenarios. Think outside of the box! Consider what your kids have taught you and determine a way to make that into a nightmare scenario for your teen to live through. It’s never too late to teach a child that babies are a blessing as long as you don’t give birth to them between your algebra and U.S. history exams.

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