It wasn’t until the fifth grade maturation program when I realized how young my parents were and how society was against it. Mom and I were lined up with the rest of the students and mothers in Beacon Heights Elementary, waiting for the library doors to open.
“Now Sadie, don’t be worried,” a mom whispered behind us as we walked through the door. “They’re going to talk about our private parts and the S-word.” I giggled. The S-word. Some girls were coming into the class hearing about sex for the first time. I found out about sex when I was five. When Mom read the book Rapunzel to me, I didn’t understand why on page 14 Rapunzel kissed the prince and on page 15, she was pregnant. After the third time asking Mom, she told me. It wasn’t that big of a deal. It sounded logical.
Mom and I sat next to my best friends, Brooke, Emma, and Cecily. Cecily didn’t know about the S-word yet, but the other three of us had been playing bedroom scenes with Barbies for a while now.
Finally the woman in the front stood up to begin. She was obese, had sandy blonde hair, and wore thick-rimmed glasses that hid some of the wrinkles below her eyes. She immediately raised two pink sheets of paper in the air so we could all see. One said “Luv” and the other “Love.”
When she talked about Luv she raised her eyebrows and swayed her hips back and forth. Luv, she said, was sitting in the back of a motorcycle with John Travolta and zooming into the sunset. Luv was red lipstick and leather jeans.
I vaguely remember the “love” part. It had to do with being careful about kissing boys, waiting until the right time, and using protection. “Love” was the boring stuff.
I could tell Mom was bored because she kept nudging me and handing me an orange tic tac and then resuming to stare at the ceiling. I was bored too, because I kept counting the seconds until the tic tac dissolved in my mouth.
The woman went on about love, but this time bringing up the S-word. “Luv is when two teenagers are crazy about each other. And they have sex.”
A couple of girls shrieked when she said the word. Emma and Brooke giggled. But the woman ignored the reactions.
“When you are a teenager and you fall in love with a boy, a lot of things can go wrong.” She emphasized the words “go” and “wrong” with pure terror. “Many teenagers fall in luv, and end up with a child that they don’t want.” Brooke and Emma looked away from the woman and stared at Mom. They knew my parents’ story. They would play at my house and ask “How old is your mom?” or “How old were they when they got married?” or “Did they not like their parents when they were a teenager?” They’d tell me afterward that their moms had asked them to ask me. But as we sat here listening to the chubby woman, they giggled at my mom. “Anne’s mom only luvs Anne’s dad,” Emma said.
I tried to imagine Mom and Dad driving into the sunset. Dad as John Travolta and Mom as Olivia Newton John. But with Dad’s sugar gut he gained after quitting his job, and Mom’s acne, they didn’t fit the part.
The woman went on. “And when you’re a teenager, you are far too young to raise a child. You are still irresponsible and, well, unworthy to have a child. No one can raise a child at sixteen.”
Brooke exploded with laughter and looked at my mom again. My mom held in her own smile, but her cheeks grew red. The woman stopped to look at Brooke. Brooke’s face was red from laughter as her mom clinged to the back of her neck and whispered angry words. “You be quiet now and listen to what the woman has to say.”
Brooke and Emma leaned on each other and snorted. “What about Anne’s Mom?” They said. Snort, snort, giggle. I looked at Mom. She was looking down at her lap and shaking her head with a smile. . After Emma and Brooke’s bursts of laughter from the woman’s teenage parenting ramble, the woman finally sighed and decided to go on to the new topic of “a woman’s private.”
Dad waited in front of the school in our red, beat-up Saturn. We hopped in and Mom re-told the big fat woman scolding the fifth graders about teenage pregnancy and how my friends were laughing at Mom the whole time. Dad rolled his eyes, but looked at me and said, “Don’t you dare get pregnant.”
Instead of a shiny black motorcycle and a burning sunset, the three of us jumbled back in our crap Saturn listening to “All Star” on the radio.