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Take Your Fast Car and Keep On Driving

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I used to watch every episode of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. I devoured episodes the way girls on this show devoured Chipotle burritos over talks of parenthood and responsibility with their boyfriends who could not yet drive. When MTV continued the series with Teen Mom and Teen Mom 2, I used those to supplement my obsession with teen mothers and DVR’d each episode faithfully so that I could watch them the morning after over coffee while comparing their mothering skills to my own. (Inevitably, I found mine superior.)

Then, one day, I realized I couldn’t watch 16 and Pregnant anymore. It became too sad. I saw in these girls my own daughter, who will one day be sixteen and, by the grace of God, please, not pregnant. The reality of these shows hit me too hard one day as I watched young girl after young girl pour all her hopes and dreams into the leaky vessel of her teenage boyfriend, that shining beacon of fatherhood. Bright young girls slowly became mewling beggars for attention, help, money, any sign of acknowledgement for them and their child from their boyfriend. Their dreams of going to college slowly become replaced with vague hopes of one day applying to the local community college and enrolling in night courses.

I stopped watching 16 and Pregnant the day I realized every single episode could be summed up with the lyrics of Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.”

You got a fast car
And I got a job that pays all our bills

You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I’d always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me would find it
I got no plans I ain’t going nowhere
So take your fast car and keep on driving


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About Jessica K