Hurts so bad.
Your girl has a baby and she wants to give it up for adoption. You look at that little face in the hospital nursery, those tiny fingers wiggling and you're proud, right? You're a daddy. She's giving away your son, and it hurts.
Even if you're only 16.
Even if she doesn't want to marry you.
Even if she never told you she was pregnant, one reason being she hasn't been your girl for nine months anyway.
That's the premise of "Schoolboy Father," an ABC "Afterschool Special" that airs today from 4:30 to 5:30 on Channel 7.
Charles Elderberry, 16, is a nice kid, gets good marks, works after school at the grocery store, and nine months before the show opens, he and Daisy Dellinger had just one of those things. The next thing he knows, it's in the paper that she gave birth to a son.
That afternoon he's at the hospital, looking at the kid, then learning from Daisy: number one, that she doesn't like him very much; and two, she's putting the kid up for adoption.
How did this happen, Charles wants to know? It happened, Daisy says, because they didn't take "precautions."
That's the key word in the show: "precautions." In this age of the rights of everyone to vent all sexual/emotional/hormonal steam, babies are not born because people have sex. No, babies are born because people don't take precautions.
Used to be, a boy in young Charles' situation would find a justice of the peace in front of him and a shotgun in back. Or the court would be knocking on the door looking for money for Daisy to raise the kid with. Nowadays, we've tended to trade these old religious and legal solutions for the medical solution of abortion.
But none of these is the subject of "Schoolboy Father," which chooses, instead, to take the more daring route of claiming that young men can actually love babies, take pride in them, envision future Super Bowl quarterbacks and want to name them -- "Wolf," in this case.
This is good, right? Wrong -- and that's the whole point of the program. If you're 16, and you want to go out to parties, and you want to buy an old MG for $1,200, it's bad.
Also, the show is not about to call this surge of paternal affection and feelings of responsibility normal in a young American male. It's because he grew up without a father, his own having left when he was 2. His best friend thinks he's nuts to want to raise the kid. Daisy, the social worker, and his own friends think he's nuts; he gets so distracted he flunks the math test and loses his job as bag boy at the grocery store; oh, the fates come down on him for this strange love.
Nevertheless, it's nice to see innate paternal affection shown, for a change, even if the whole point is that young people should, you guessed it, Take Precautions.
Charles gives fatherhood a go, after talking his mother into a "one-week trial period" with the baby. Charles then does go nuts, being stuck at home with a crying baby. He isn't having any fun. He realizes he's not old enough to handle the responsibility, and, in a truly moving scene, gives the baby back to the social worker for adoption.
You end up with the feeling that someday Charles, once he gets beyond bag boy and high school, is going to find a nice girl, settle down, abandon precautions one fine night, and turn into a terrific father.