Today is my local college’s rag day. I realise this as soon as I walk into town and discover the centre overrun with groups of teenagers wearing even fewer clothes than they normally do. It is bitterly cold today – I am wearing two scarves – but there are girls out in literally their underwear. My motherly instinct, such as it is, is immediately aroused, as I’m sure is the libido of many a middle aged man. I am worried for these girls. Surely it is possible to actually DIE from exposing yourself all day to freezing temperatures in just a bunny girl outfit?
The original meaning of rag day is of course to raise money for local good causes, and I do see a few teens clutching collection boxes to their shivering bosoms, but given no one actually asks me for money I’m not convinced of its effectiveness as a fundraising technique. I do see a gang of 16 year old pirates taking it in turns to swig from a bottle of own brand vodka. Very philanthropic.
I would like to be able to recall fond memories of my own college rag days, but I didn’t actually take part in either of them. For the first, aged 16, I was three months pregnant and, unlike my friends, the vomiting I was doing on a daily basis was not preceded by days and nights of wholesome, drunken teenage fun.
For the second, a year later, my own puking had been replaced by that of my six month old baby daughter. I gave birth at the end of July, between the first and second years of my A-levels, and had returned to college in the September when she was six weeks old. I suppose I could have taken part in this rag day, but with a baby at home you don’t enjoy that same sense of freedom that my friends would have felt. Day time drinking is really no fun when you know you have to be home by tea time to put a baby to bed. Plus any new mum will appreciate that baby-free time is precious – I had three A-levels to study for and all my spare time was taken up with essay writing and revision.
I look at the gangs of kids in town and, aside from feeling terribly old and frumpy, wonder if I have missed out. Did being a teenage mum keep me from enjoying my childhood to the full? Maybe, but if that just means I got to stay home in the warm, while my peers drunkenly roamed the streets in their pants, I’m not sure I feel too deprived…
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Very well written! Interesting perspective. Personally, I think that being focussed on a baby is preferable in many ways to having nothing to focus on but your own body issues, insecurities, and that excruciating perpetual embarrassment at everything that marked my teen years when I was 16/17.
I don’t really *get* the idea of rag week. I always thought it was something like orientation week that Kiwi uni’s have, but that’s more to do with students getting to socialise and know each other before the actual studying part of coursework begins. I think it is great that you have this whole fundraising aspect – used to often get cornered by teams of bizarrely dressed medical students when I worked near a teaching hospital, for example.
Being a teenage mum certainly gave some focus to my teenage years! Plus I reckon when the kids leave home and I’m still only about 40, I will definitely appreciate my freedom.
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