So it’s no secret that I love junk TV. I think it started with Trading Spaces, and since then I’ve been hooked. Extreme Couponing? I’m all over that. 19 Kids and Counting? Please, I remember when they only had 16. And don’t think I didn’t watch Sister Wives, for the purely anthropological analysis of modern day polygyny of course.
So several months ago, I was at my in-laws house and my sister-in-law was watching this show called “Teen Mom.” Apparently there was a show on MTV that showed teenage girls navigating the new world of parenthood and messy relationships, all while texting simultaneously. It was some of the lowest of the low in reality TV. I was hooked.
When we got back home, I didn’t tune into the show regularly, but if it was on while I was browsing through the channels, I would stop and watch. It was just too easy to laugh at. Overly dramatic breakups, petty screaming fights with parents, new boyfriends/girlfriends while the kid was still in diapers.
Last night, John and I caught the last twenty minutes of an episode. A young girl had just given birth to two darling boys. They showed her parents crying as she gave the boys their father’s last name, a decision I never understood. If I had babies out of wedlock, they’d have my last name until I had the dad’s last name. Just saying.
Within a day of bringing the babies home, the boyfriend got in a huge fight with the girl’s parents and left. A few days later, the new mom and dad are driving down the road with the two matching car seats in the back. The couple begins to fight, and the girl breaks up with him and demands that he take her home.
You know what he does then?
Pulls over and demands that she gets out of the car. He then leaves her stranded on the side of the road in the rain, and speeds off down the road.
My heart broke.
The next clip is of her yelling at the car saying something along the lines of “I’m calling the cops!! That’s kidnapping!” (Note to anyone who might find themselves in this situation: yes it is. Call the cops.)
She calls her mom instead to come pick her up. In the meantime, the boyfriend returns to leave the kids on the side of the road with her, perhaps aware of the jail time for kidnapping. Her mom shows up, and there is all sorts of yelling and pushing. It was not a pretty sight. The cops show up and arrest the dad, though the mom decides not to press charges.
What sort of father leaves his newborn children on the side of the road?
It gave me a new appreciation for the show Teen Moms. Not because it’s cinema at its finest, groundbreaking journalism, or really even something that I think should be filmed. But it shows with honesty the pain and the complexity of the lives of these women. Sure, we can judge. We can think “well, if the parents had been around…” or “why didn’t they just use a condom?” But that doesn’t do anyone any good.
You always hear that teenage parents are ostracized because people are worried that if they befriend them, they condone their behavior, and in our post-puritanical society that wouldn’t be acceptable. But we never have an excuse not to love somebody, not to care for somebody, not to accept somebody.
Seeing those babies on the side of the road broke my heart. (This is twice in a week that I’ve posted about babies. Just FYI, there is no bun in the oven. There isn’t even dough rising on the counter. Heck, we haven’t even bought the flour).
Today, I picked up a shift at the family transitional housing facility the organization I work for runs. Last time I worked here was back in December. Fun fact – it was snowing then too, just like it is today. A couple with a little baby stopped by to ask if we had a place to stay. It was my job to tell them that because we were a transitional facility, we had no emergency shelter. They were more than welcome to fill out an application, but it would likely be a few months before they could get in. I gave them directions to the homeless shelter downtown and told them it doesn’t allow children to spend the night. The only advice I had was to call the police, which they had already tried. So they left.
It was about a week before Christmas, and I had just turned this new little family out back into the cold. Just like the innkeeper, I thought.
It’s so easy to turn people away. To think, “it’s okay if I judge them, they shouldn’t have gotten themselves into that mess anyway.” But there’s no need for that.