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What You See ... This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


The best way to ruinsomeone's day is to make an assumption. When a stranger passes you on the street,please don't judge them. You do not know their circumstances or what kind of daythey are having.

As the oldest of four, I end up baby-sitting a lot for myfamily. There is a big gap in age between my sister Vanessa and me since I was 13when she was born. One day my mom took all four of us kids to the mall forChristmas shopping. My mother wanted to shop for me, so I offered to watchVanessa. With all my presents purchased, I was content to sit with her and watchthe shoppers hustle by.

For a few minutes we were comfortable: me, thetall 15-year-old relaxing with Vanessa, the cute toddler, sitting on my lap. ThenI started to hear comments and notice looks being thrown our way by thepassers-by. First an elderly woman pointed at us and whispered to her friend,"Oh, look. Another teen mother. What is the world coming to?" It tookme a minute to realize she was talking about my sister and me, but I brushed itaside as a simple misunderstanding. The next comment was not as easy to dismiss.A middle-aged man looked at me and disgustedly said to his wife, "Teenpregnancies. What a disgrace." These words stung my ears.

After manypointed looks and more rude comments - one lady even complained that teen motherssteal her tax dollars by mooching off welfare - my mother and other siblingsreturned.

Walking back to the parking lot, I noticed more positivereactions. Friendly, approving glances were tossed our way as people viewed us asa happy, cooperative family. I had returned to my correct role, according to thegeneral public. But, of course, I hadn't changed one bit - only the strangers'assumptions had.

Reflecting on these events, I was really disappointedwith others. I should be able to enjoy a simple moment with my little sisterwithout being a target of rude comments. These assumptions had turned what shouldhave been a lovely afternoon into an unhappy time. And what if I were a teenmother? Why should people not only judge me, but actually condemn me by speakingtheir thoughts aloud? Their rudeness and cruelty was astounding. What you seeisn't always what really is, so don't make others pay for your sometimes mistakenassumptions.



This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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