I've been trying to think about what I want to say in this post about my Prom Talk. I've been having a hard time figuring out how to do it justice and make it interesting for everyone here. To be honest, I've had a hard time knowing what to blog about lately in general. My life feels pretty boring to me. Right now I am going to work, then going to softball practice or a game, come home, get ready for work the next day, give myself a Lupron injection, go to bed way too late, and repeat the next day. In between all that, I am trying to catch up on everyone else's blogs, in which I am WAY behind. Ahhh! I'm not really feeling overwhelmed. I'm in a good place. I just have very little time in my day.
Anyway, the Prom Talk. For those of you that may not know, I coach softball. Prom falls during the middle of our season, so every year I talk to the girls about making good choices and not getting into trouble. I am well known in our small community for the "Prom Talk." I remind them about the drug and alcohol policies for student athletes and what they need to do if they find themselves in a compromising situation. I talk to them about driving safely, and we talk about sex.
Prom is an exciting night and something that the girls look forward to. For weeks, I hear about who's asked who to the dance, and HOW they were asked. Boys don't simply ask girls to go to Prom anymore. It is a major production now, kind of like you would envision for an elaborate marriage proposal. It's sweet and a little ridiculous all at the same time. They talk about their prom dresses, how they are going to do their hair, and they get awful spray tans.
But while Prom is so exciting for these girls, it is scary for me. Our season could be over in the blink of an eye if a group of my players get caught at a party. Worse than that, I would be devastated if one of them were to get killed in a car accident. Or if one of them ended up pregnant.
It is not uncommon to read in the paper or see on the news about a kid that was killed in a car accident the night of their prom. It has happened many times over the years. It's not always due to drinking and driving. Sometimes it's simply because they are driving with a group of friends and are distracted.
It's not uncommon for a girl to have a baby approximately 9 months after prom. My best friend from high school was one of those girls. She was a freshman and went with her senior boyfriend to prom. She had sex one time, and it resulted in her having a baby at 15. The high school I coach at has the highest rate of pregnancy in the state of Oregon.
Each year my Prom Talk is different. Sometimes it's just a general talk that covers all topics. A few years ago, I didn't even have to give the talk. The girls did it for me because they had heard it so many times! That was a great year, listening to their perspective. Last year my focus was on drugs. I gave my personal testament about growing up with drugs and alcohol in my family.
This year the focus of the Prom Talk was about sex. I told them that I knew it can be an embarrassing topic, but one that is important to talk about. I told them I knew some of them have already been sexually active (of course I didn't say who). I know that a lot of times it is easy to look at adults, especially their parents, and think that they "just don't understand" or that "things have changed since you were in school." I shared with them that I've had sex with two guys in my life, and that in my opinion it was one too many. I also shared with them that I have a 79 year old client that I can talk about anything with, and that this older gal had sex when she was in high school too. Those types of pressures haven't changed, they have simply become more acceptable. We HAVE been in their shoes and we DO understand how hard it is.
I shared that in high school, I had sex with a boy I had gone out with for a year and a half. I thought he was "the one." I was convinced I was going to marry him. When you're in high school, it's easy to convince yourself you are going to be together forever, but the truth is that doesn't always happen. In some circumstances it does, but it is not typical. A lot of head shaking and nods from the girls.
One of my assistant coaches shared her high school experience. She started dating her soon to be husband when she was in the 8th grade and they have been together for 9 years, both graduating college this year. He is a year older than her and was a tough guy on the football team in high school. They both got a lot of pressure from their peers in high school to have sex, but she had made the decision to not have sex while still in high school. If the community viewed her as a kid still, then she wasn't going to have sex, because kids shouldn't be having sex. Through 4 years of high school, she had to fight the battle of giving in. She almost caved the night of prom. She almost gave in when her boyfriend was gone to his first year of college. But she didn't. She also explained to the girls that this was HER goal, it wasn't her boyfriend's goal, which did make it harder.
This coach also shared a story about one of her good friends that had made the decision to wait until she was married to have sex. It was really important to this friend to be intimate with one man in her lifetime. This friend got engaged and was planning her wedding. Just a few months before their wedding, they did end up having sex. Then, the guy left her and the friend was devastated.
We both stressed that if the guy truly is the one, he should respect them enough to wait until they are ready. I told the girls that having sex is the most intimate thing you can do with a person. Don't put yourself in a position that you will someday look back on with regrets, because at some point in time, you will have to share your history with your future husband. Be okay will what you have to tell him.
I decided early on in the season that I would share with my team about my infertility and everything that we have been through to that point. Last year during softball season was my first IVF. Some of the players were on the team last year, and could now put the pieces together. Such as the day of retrieval. All they knew was that Hubby ran practice that day because I had a minor surgery for some female issues. I shared with them about all the injections. I even took the needles so they could visually see what it was I was telling them. There were a few gasps when they saw the PIO needle. The girls could remember the phone calls I received during practice that I had to take. They could remember the day I got the phone call letting me know about my chemical pregnancy. All I had told them last year was that I had gotten very bad news.
I told the girls about my pregnancy at the start of the year, and that I almost wasn't going to coach them this season because I would have been pregnant and didn't want to take any chances by being out on the softball field and putting the pregnancy at risk. I told them about my miscarriage. On the day I found out we had lost the baby, we had open hitting and I had to meet a few of their dad's who were helping me on the softball field. I told them how I had sobbed leaving the appointment, but then pulled myself together so I could open the batting cages for them and meet their parents for the field work. As much as I love being their coach, I do wish I still had a very good reason for not being out there this year.
I don't think this group of girls have ever been so quiet. All 24 girls listened very intently, and a number of them were very teary. I told them that I shared my story with them not only because I want them to learn from it, but because I consider them family and several of them had been indirectly affected by it last year as I went through it during softball season.
I tied in the whole sex talk with my IF talk by telling them I don't know what I would have done if I had gotten pregnant in high school. I don't really believe in abortions, but I can't say for certain that I wouldn't have had one if I had gotten pregnant in high school. I didn't really have the home life that would have supported me having a baby so young. I don't know what I would have done. But I am very grateful now, especially knowing we can't have kids, that I don't have something like that to regret because it would be very devastating. I reminded them that they needed to think about the choices they make, because they have to be ready for the potential outcomes/consequences of their actions.
Of course I finished by wishing them a wonderful Prom night! Have fun, make good choices, and I would see them at our next practice. The only thing I wish I had also remembered to touch on was STD's, as obviously that can be another consequence to being sexually active.
I had one mom tell me about her conversation with her daughter following our talk. Her daughter is one that still hasn't had sex. She asked her daughter if the Talk helped her to think twice about having sex. The answer was a definite yes. Phew! Ultimately, if I can inspire even just a few of these girls to wait until after high school, I will consider that a success.