I immediately volunteered to sing. He called on the eager 12 year old girl, probably expecting a cute little camp song. After all who would expect a kid to come up with that monstrosity? Let alone perform it for every adult and camper to witness… but we did…The pregnancy song…

When I was about 12, I wrote a song (with a little help from my friends) that ended up being permanently banned from my childhood summer camp. I attended Camp MASH (Make Arthritis Stop Hurting) for most of my childhood and have continued to work as a counselor there. Its a week long overnight summer camp in the Wisconsin Dells aimed at kids with JRA (Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis) and other rheumatic diseases like lupus and dermatomyositis.

Most of the kids there have never met anyone outside of camp who has the same condition so it’s a pretty cool experience. Everyone gets very close very quickly and the combination of  too much sugar, too little sleep, and the excitement of being away from home makes things interesting. This is true of most summer camps but at camp MASH you mix in all the drugs these kids are on for JRA and it’s even crazier. I was on steroids and they made me pretty hyperactive so I had to find ways to release my energy.

For whatever reason, by 12 I had developed a peculiar fascination with pregnancy. It all started during swimming. There were beach balls in the pool area and my friends and I began putting them in our shirts, using them as pretend pregnant bellies. Well the trend caught on in my unit and we spent most of the week pretending to be pregnant and joking that ‘there must have been something in the water’ because I went through approximately 400 different pregnancies that week. I even attended several all camp events sporting my belly. In retrospect the idea of a group of 12 year old girls walking around summer camp pregnant is ridiculous. I don’t know why we were allowed to express ourselves in this way but my counselors didn’t bat an eye. In fact one of them helped me perfect the art of creating a convincing ‘snooze-button.’

I considered myself quite the songwriter at the time and naturally these themes overlapped and I ended up writing “The Pregnancy Song” Hugely innapropriate and utterly offensive. No full copy of the 12 verse song remains. I can recall certain verses, but not the full original piece in it’s entirety. Regardless here’s the jist:

The Pregnancy Song

Don’t get pregnant over 55
Simply because the risks are too high
Don’t forget that you might die
If you get pregnant over 55

Your stomach might explode
Your baby could implode
Blood squirt from your eye
Make a faulty pie
You may just die!

Don’t get pregnant over 55
Simply because the risks are too high
Don’t forget that you might die
If you get pregnant over 55

You’ll puke up all your lunch
From drinking too much punch
Hot flashes in your head
Headaches while in bed
Did I shave my legs for this?

Don’t get pregnant over 55
Simply because the risks are too high
Don’t forget That you might die
If you get pregnant over 55

Your stomach will explode
Your baby will implode
Blood squirt from your eye
Make a faulty pie
You may just die!

So have a kid when you’re a kid
Or else you’ll end up like my sister did
And don’t shave your legs for this!

Ok… so the science behind it may be a bit inaccurate but it’s not necessarily the worst advice? It’s not phrased in a particularly sensitive way. I don’t know why I felt I was in a position to advise women much older than me in the first place…or why I felt I knew anything about childbearing whatsoever, but lets be honest, a 12 year old could have written a much worse ‘pregnancy song’.

My friends and I had great fun singing this song in our unit. Probably because we had come up with something we knew was inappropriate and couldn’t believe we were getting away with it. Our counselors slept a lot… But eventually we got too gutsy and landed ourselves in hot water. We had an all camp bonfire that night and they had hired a man to come with his guitar and sing songs with us. He was teaching us how to write songs and I was not having any of it. What could I, Songwriter extraordinaire, creator of the utterly brilliant ‘pregnancy song,’ stand to learn from this bearded schmuck with a guitar? And in my defense the song he came up with was incredibly lame. He decided it should be about arthritis. OK. It featured lines such as “we all have arthritis power!” Come on guy… We were all way too cool for this. But he still made us complete the song and sing it through several times.

Eventually he picked up on the serious shade I was throwing his way and asked if anyone had a song that they wanted to come up and sing for the group. I immediately volunteered. He called on the eager 12 year old girl, probably expecting a cute little camp song. After all who would expect a kid to come up with that monstrosity? Let alone perform it for every adult and camper to witness… but we did…

My friends and I got up and I, being the attention-seeker that I was, eagerly grabbed the microphone away from “arthritis power guy” and dove in. My friends, being aware of their surroundings and the potential repercussions of what we were about to do, seemed slightly hesitant. I was not quite as smart so I sang loud and proud until my song had been boldly sung. I finished and there was a dead silence (minus some scattered giggling from amused children). The adults stared at me with open mouths, in shock, and I was quickly rushed away, along with my friends, by the head of the summer camp. She proceeded to have a stern talk with us about what was inappropriate and offensive about this song and our performance. It was henceforth officially banned from summer camp.

I quickly forgot about the pregnancy song and moved on to my next song. Later I would rediscover the song and create a pregnancy-song-singing-build-a-bear, another poor life choice on my part. But for the time-being, the pregnancy song was no more. I went down in camp MASH history as the camper who wrote a song so bad it was officially banned from camp forever. The legend has lived on and still exists to this day. Even my 12 year old campers now have heard the tale and brag that they have the baddest counselor on the block as this makes it difficult for me to impose any kind of rule-following structure on them. I guess the lesson here is that the mistakes you make at 12 will haunt you for the rest of your life. For me this was one of many… If you’re interested in how I managed to get scarves permanently banned from my middle school

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