Diary of an Unborn Child - the speech contest prose that shocked me as a fourth grader and taught me something awful existed in the world; called abortion
Back in the 1980's I attended a school that educated grades first through eighth. One of the things the 7th and 8th graders got to do every Spring was take part in a regional speech contest. Before the contest they would practice by visiting the different classrooms and reading their speeches to the younger kids in order to grow comfortable and hone their poetry and prose. Although they could choose readings of their own choice, I later learned and saw that every year when the speech contest was done their speeches, stapled on colored construction paper, were tossed into a box and put on a shelf for the next years kids to go through if they wished.
Because of the box being saved, there were a couple speeches we 'little ones' heard year after year - others were brand new. We 'littles' in 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th graders would ooh and ahh and discuss them afterwards and call 'dibs' on the ones we wanted to read when we were finally able to take part in 7th and 8th grade!
A few still come to mind after all these years... mostly in bits and pieces but others, I can recall almost the whole thing.
The Little Matchbox Girl (loved it the first two years I heard it but oh, how that one was over done! I wanted nothing to do with it nor to hear it any more by the time we were in 4th or 5th!)
Belinda and the Dragon (I still remember the name of the girl I first heard read this one! I won't give her last name away online but Dee, I still recall watching you stand in the front of the class and read this... I had never heard it before that but not only did I choose this as one of my readings when I went to speech contest, but it's one I found at our local library years later and went on to read to my own children when they were small).
"I'm writing this down so you'll know how it feels to be pushed and pushed until you can't take it anymore! I've been swimming for seven years in competition. There's a meet every weekend in the summer and once a week in the winter......" I don't remember the name of this one, but I remember a good portion of the lines. I recall the names of 2 classmates who chose this as their reading when it was finally 'our' time to choose readings.
And finally... getting to the point of this post!!! (Yes, for the record I am having my 5th cup of coffee today so I'm blaming it on the coffee talking again....)
DIARY OF AN UNBORN CHILD
I think I first heard a girl named Theresa read this to the class when I was in 4th grade. I was happily listening, picturing her words playing out as images in my mind of a happy little baby... and then, the last line. What?! What!? I was so confused, shocked and sad. I almost wanted to cry. I didn't understand abortion back then, didn't understand that last line... I wasn't alone. Silence followed her reading and then slowly, we clapped as we had to clap for all the older students who were reading to us.
This prose became the hot topic of 4th, 5th and 6th graders alike. Whispered explanations, shock, sadness. We were midwestern kids from a small town in the heartland in the mid-80's. Killing an unborn baby was unbelievable to us... unheard of. Babies were to be gushed over and loved and cherished!
And that was (I think) the first time I learned about what abortion was - explained to us by the 'older kids' and forever being burned into my memory was this reading, which thankfully, I was able to find online.
OCTOBER 5: Today my life began. My parents do not know it yet, but it is I already. And I am to be a girl. I shall have blond hair and blue eyes. Just about everything is settled though, even the fact that I shall love flowers.
OCTOBER 19: Some say that I am not a real person yet, that only my mother exists. But I am a real person, just as a small crumb of bread is yet truly bread. My mother is. And I am.
OCTOBER 23: My mouth is just beginning to open now. Just think, in a year or so I shall be laughing and later talking. I know what my first word will be: MAMA.
OCTOBER 25: My heart began to beat today all by itself. From now on it shall gently beat for the rest of my life without ever stopping to rest! And after many years it will tire. It will stop, and then I shall die.
NOVEMBER 2: I am growing a bit every day. My arms and legs are beginning to take shape. But I have to wait a long time yet before those little legs will raise me to my mother’s arms, before these little arms will be able to gather flowers and embrace my father.
NOVEMBER 12: Tiny fingers are beginning to form on my hands. Funny how small they are! I’ll be able to stroke my mother’s hair with them.
NOVEMBER 20:It wasn’t until today that the doctor told mom that I am living here under her heart. Oh, how happy she must be! Are you happy, mom?
NOVEMBER 25: My mom and dad are probably thinking about a name for me. But they don’t even know that I am a little girl. I want to be called Kathy. I am getting so big already.
DECEMBER 10: My hair is growing. It is smooth and bright and shiny. I wonder what kind of hair mom has?
DECEMBER 13: I am just about able to see. It is dark around me. When mom brings me into the world it will be full of sunshine and flowers. But what I want more than anything is to see my mom. How do you look, mom?
DECEMBER 24: I wonder if mom hears the whispering of my heart? Some children come into the world a little sick. But my heart is strong and healthy. It beats so evenly: tup-tup, tup-tup. You’ll have a healthy little daughter, mom!
DECEMBER 28: Today my mother killed me.