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Compartment 14B

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Young love.

2007-11-21 - 3:40 p.m.

My brother has a Girlfriend. At 17, heís had other girlfriends, but Iíd have to say that this is probably his first serious Girlfriend. Iím going to try to put this both tactfully and truthfully (and heaven help me if he ever finds this journal if I mis-step in my expression of my feelings here (not that I think it'd occur to him that his old sister would be so hip as to have a blog or anything)): I donít dislike her, but I donít really like her either. I acknowledge that I donít know her at all well and I have only a couple of meetings and hearsay to go on, but perhaps my wary regard of her is that I find it very hard to understand or relate to her.

I know this is not a ringing endorsement. And I want to like her. More importantly, I want to be able to say that I like her with a ringing certainty so that my brother would be pleased to read this entry. I think the best I can hope for is that heíll understand what Iím trying to say and why I have my reservations, even if heís smitten with her.

First of all, sheís goth. Nothing wrong with that: my sisterís a goth and I have some close friends that have flirted with goth-hood in their younger years. However, sheís a teenage goth (read: more concerned with telling the world who I am, man than considering impact on others) whose velvet garments tend to display an amount of cleavage Iíd have deemed unseemly for dinner at my boyfriendís parentsí house, when Iím meeting his sister for the first time. In other words, Iím a big proponent of dressing in a manner thatís situationally appropriate and I think she perhaps just misses the mark there. To my mind, hanging out with friends? Goth it up. Trying to make a good impression on fuddy-duddy relatives of someone Iím in a relationship with? Perhaps a little more restraint is called for. Ditto with the making out at the dinner table.

Second of all, and I know this is going to come across as incredibly judge-y, sheís got a son thatís 6 months younger than Grommet. Again, nothing intrinsically wrong with that: people make mistakes and itís admirable that, at 15 when she got pregnant, she decided to do the harder thing and have and raise the baby. Hereís my problem with the situation: she doesnít seem to prioritize her son over other things. Iíve never seen her with the baby, and of all the times I hear about her and my brother doing stuff, only once has the baby been included. My brotherís car is a two-seater so they canít bring the munchkin along when he picks her up, but there are other cars in the house that have back seats that he could borrow. She never breastfed, not because she couldnít but because she didnít want to. She talks about how he escapes from his crib by sliding down a piece of furniture thatís beside the crib. Why not move that piece of furniture away? Sheís mentioned his very late bedtimes and erratic rising schedule thatís based on when her aunt can take him to daycare. And hereís the big kicker for me that I have an issue with: she took up smoking when her son was two months old.

What?

And no, I donít mean she quit smoking while she was pregnant and went back to it when he was two months old; she actually started smoking when he was two months old. Who does that? Who decides, ďWell, itís a filthy, unhealthy and addictive habit that others struggle to give up for the sake of their children, but Iím going to take it up once I have a kid.Ē? I just do not get that. It boggles my mind.

I understand that sheís a teenager and one of the characteristics of teenage hood is self-absorption. But when youíve got a child, donít you put them first? I know a few women who had kids in their teenage years. In almost every case it gave them a perspective on life that was different than the average teenager. They had to mature more quickly and in at least one case it really turned one of them around from a downward spiral and she went onward in life with bigger goals and aspirations than sheíd had before, for the sake of her offspring.

I guess the thing is that I kind of expect a teenage mom to be less typically-teen-like than this girl is. I sympathize that teenage moms have to grow up too fast and miss out on being able to sometimes be utterly selfish. I hold a lot of respect for girls that find themselves in such a difficult situation and decide to sacrifice some of their imagined life for a more difficult reality. I think this is why itís odd to hear one sound as if, well, as if sheíd not actually accepted that there was much need to adjust her life to accommodate a child.

Maybe I shouldnít have such lofty expectations of her or girls in her situation. Maybe the women I know arenít typical and I shouldnít base my expectations of many on a small sample size. Maybe I need to adjust my thinking to accept that teenage moms are still, after all, teenagers, and are allowed and expected to be a little selfish?

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