06 November 2006

Ants, Grasshoppers, and Pregnancy At 13

I love the story of the Ants and the Grasshopper!

You remember it, don't you?
All Summer long the ants work hard putting food away for the coming Winter, while the grasshopper fiddles away having fun.

The ants warn the grasshopper he needs to prepare for hard times, but he's having 'way too much fun to be troubled with work.

"Don't worry- be happy!" Somehow, things will work out.

When the weather turns deadly and the grasshopper is about to freeze to death, the gracious ants take him in and share the fruits of their labor with him, allowing him to "sing for his supper".
Moral: Don't waste time with working hard. Hard work is for weak people that later can easily be taken advantage of with a good "hard luck" story.

I frequently listen to talk radio while driving late at night.
One night a few years ago, the host was talking with the Junior High School teacher of a school in a large city. She made the comment, "my 12 and 13 year old girls know TO-THE-PENNY, (her emphasis), what they will receive in welfare benefits when the have their first baby! They know TO-THE-PENNY, how much they will receive when they have their second baby!"

Remember now, we're talking about 12 and 13 year old girls!

These little girls fantasize about being "grown up" and having babies.
They know, from such an early age, there is no need for them to make long term plans, because the system has a safety net in place for them.

Fathers? They had no Father!
We don't need no stinking Fathers!
We just want a baby that will love us!

So here we have a vicious circle:
Babies having babies.
Babies whose home lives are unstable.
Babies that think their lives will improve if they just have something they can love that loves them in return.
Babies trapped because, being pregnant or saddled with a child, they get no education.
They're like our friend the grasshopper, except I'm not sure they get the warning the ants gave the grasshopper......
they don't have time to get even that much education when they're pregnant at 13 or so.

We have to figure out a way to break this cycle.
Our children need to realize, from an early age, that a good education is one step in the stairway to a successful life. Our children's education should include how to avoid a dead-end life by avoiding early pregnancies, so necessary skills can be learned to prepare for living independently.

It also couldn't hurt to tell the story of the Ants and the Grasshopper early and often, with more emphasis on the grasshopper as a character to be pitied.


k said...

Right on. My dear friend from college who double-majored with one major in women's studies is a very intelligent yet very liberal gal. For several years we had an ongoing debate about young mothers.

Her viewpoint was based on women's health and choice: that easier access to birth control, use of the morning-after pill and legalized abortion were how to break the cycle; give the girls choices for how to deal with their bad decisions so they won't propagate.

My viewpoint was based on social reconstruction: simply to teach them to make good decisions and let them live with the consequences if they don't. (Funnily, her response to this is that the ones making the bad decisions are too dumb to be taught otherwise!)

Neither works on a broad social scale.

Whatever happened to the idea of mandatory sterilization for repeat offenders?

Aviatrix said...

This makes me laugh, because when I was exactly thirteen I had a grade eight English teacher who was only a couple of years from retirement and would sometimes not really feel like exerting the effort required to instill in us an appreciation of Shakespeare, or gerunds, or the semi-colon. He would ask the class if he had read us the story of the Grasshopper and the Ant.

We would shake our heads 'no' with deceitful eagerness, even if he had just read us the story the previous week.

I don't believe any of the girls in my English class got pregnant that year, but I think we generally had better choices available.