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I Love You. Be Careful.
November 21 2010

I constantly hear the older folks around my tiny, rural community talking about how the world’s gone to hell in a hand basket. Preachers are teaching the end of time. Scientists are preaching global warming. The economy is rotten. Every one of the old timers has a differing opinion about the government, and none of them are good. But they all agree that ‘these kids’ are the worst of the whole lot. These kids just don’t have any respect today.

“They got no self respect. Just open their legs up to anybody, these girls. And these boys, well, these boys are just as bad!”

Never mind that most of these cacklin’, genteel southern belles with their hair coifed and their rouge just so were married in their early teens. Just couldn’t have Daddy finding out that little Sally had fallen from grace. After all, anyone can pretend that a baby is born a month or two early, and heads will turn the other way. No one would dare mention that ole Uncle Thomas weighed nine pounds twelve ounces when he was born at a wee seven months. Why, the gentility may succumb to the vapors if the topic were ever broached.

The fact of the matter is probably this. The world hasn’t gone to hell in a hand basket. At least, no more so than it was on the trip fifty years ago. The world has just gotten so much larger with the advent of global communication that we know more about the catastrophes and immorality than ever before.

While this newfound era of knowledge has come upon us and enveloped the world, it has also brought out the stupids in droves.

The stupids are the people who enjoy spreading ignorance like plagues among our new global society. Not the folks who don’t know any better…the ones who do it for kicks and giggles.

I never witnessed so much of the evidence of this as when I taught public high school. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the youth of today but in how previous generations have failed them. These precious youth are so smart and so sensitive in their own unique, brilliant ways. But they have come to believe some of the most cockamamie ideas I have every heard.

One of the areas that always concerned me was that they were so ‘into’ sex but had little factual knowledge of the intricacies that come with it. Now, kids have always been into ‘doing it’, but this was somehow different. Perhaps it was because sex was just an act, not really even a choice. Sexual relations were just something that girls did to make boys like them; something boys did to impress other boys.

As a matter of fact, same sex activities between girls were crazily on the rise where I taught. Now, this was not because these ladies really were attracted to other females. It was because the guys liked it, and with some it was a prerequisite to dating anyone.

I remember when one child had the house to himself because his grandmother, who raised him, was gravely ill and in the hospital for a length of time. This young man hosted parties every night, where at least two of my girls decided to sleep together and then take turns with each guy there. This happened on more than one occasion.

It was really more of a popularity contest than actually choosing to make love to someone. It didn’t matter who the partner was; it just proved that someone, anyone out there found them attractive enough to sleep with. Just a simple transaction of body parts; oh, and by the way, thanks.

Another truth that is completely misunderstood about these young adults is that they are dying for someone to listen…they are dying for someone to speak to them like they are kids and the speaker is an adult. I taught high school for four years, and rarely did a day go by that a student did not ask to speak with me privately. And believe you me, I was known for telling them precisely what they did not want to hear.

The problem is that they learned this flippant attitude. This did not just derive out of thin air and pounce upon the student’s that I taught. This complete attitude of sex being casual – at the age of 13 or 14 – was learned. That means that someone, somewhere was a very good teacher in the very worst way. One of the stupids, if you would.

“Mrs. Chapman, I think I’m pregnant. What do I do?”

“Mrs. Chapman, we did it just one time without, ya know, anything last week, and now I’m hungry all the time. Is that what it feels like to be pregnant?”

“Mrs. Chapman, I haven’t had a period in two months. I’ve been hooking up a lot with different guys. How do I find out if I’m pregnant?”

“Mrs. Chapman, I’m pregnant. I don’t want this baby.” One week later, “Mrs. Chapman, I’m not pregnant anymore. I drank casteroil and smoked a lot of weed this weekend. When I took another pregnancy test, it came back negative.”

“Mrs. Chapman. I’ve got chlamydia. What is that?”

Now, a teacher who cares is really stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place in these situations because the last thing she wants to do is break a confidence. Particularly when that teacher is the only adult a student has to confide in without fear of harm or complete disregard.

Oh, yes, I heard and heard and heard. I gave advise; often with the only retained answers being the good, old fashioned, “I love you. Be careful.”

Of course, I told them it was better to wait. Of course, I told them it was better to be monogamous if they chose not to wait. I strongly encouraged them to talk with their parents. (“Yeah, right, Mrs. Chapman.”) But, I always tried to include more practical information because I knew that they were really only children caught up in a cycle that many adults can’t break.

The one tidbit that always struck me as horrid was that not one of them was worried about catching a STD. Not one of them was concerned about HIV, gonorrhea, chlamydia or syphilis. All the stories I heard; all the miserable confessions…not one single person was worried about sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, it seemed almost as if they didn’t really believe in the existence of such sicknesses.

They were, however, very concerned about babies. Some were even trying to get pregnant, “Cause I gonna keep my man.”

Not one was worried a bit about catching a disease that would live with them the rest of their lives. Not one seemed to understand that some of these diseases took lives. Boys nor girls…neither had any concept of their own mortality.

The fact is this. I personally taught no less than ten girls, ranging from ages 13 to 17, over a period of four years who became pregnant. These are the ladies I just counted on my fingers without really thinking. Now this was in a very small school where I was an elective teacher. That means that I only saw a percentage of our young women who were expecting. One can imagine how many of these ladies were also sporting something not near as cute and cuddly down below.

And the boys that were making these little bundles of love were sporting the same things. And because hardly anybody was monogamous, these little bacteria, parasites and viruses spread like wildfire.

I always tried to find the time to give a little insight into sexually transmitted diseases.

People did not have to have pure intercourse to get them.

Always, always, always use protection. Forever and ever. Amen.

“I’m on birth control.” “She’s on birth control.” “Mrs. Chapman, I’m old fashioned, ya know what I mean?” I heard a million variations of this line.

I tried to get through, “It is all about the bodily fluids, children. You come into contact with someone else’s bodily fluid, and if they have something you now have it, as well. Don’t go there at all or never go there without protection.”

“But we don’t ever…you know…it’s all oral.”

Again, I repeated, “Bodily fluids! Do you come into contact with bodily fluids? If you do, use protection!”

Children can contract all of the same STD’s an adult can, but their brains are not finished growing until they are much older. They cannot reason the way that an adult can, and therefore they are at an even higher risk of getting something that Ajax won’t scrub off.

It does not have to be pure intercourse…it can be oral, anal or vaginal sex that brings a person down to the realization that they are not pregnant…no, not pregnant; just dying.

Whether a same sex or heterosexual couple, each one is at risk if they are doing the dirty without condoms.

It does not matter how much birth control a girl is on…there are worse repercussions to unprotected sex than even quadruplets. Abstinence! And if not abstinence, then protection!

“We love protection. Yes, we do! We love protection! How about you?’ should be every young, sexually active teen’s sound but cheesy motto. Not because it is in style. And not because I said so. The one single reason is this. There is at least One who says with each child’s every breath, “I love you. Be careful.”

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