Big One is 16 and now she has a baby. Not a real baby.
She is in a parenting class in high school and has to care for this baby for 3 days – Friday through Monday morning. It seemed funny at first and we were all joking, including her.
After one day of caretaking, everything has changed. My daughter feels connected to this ‘baby’ and rubs her and gave her a kiss even though these things aren’t required and don’t get recorded by the computer. She has been frustrated by the baby and says things like “I don’t know what she needs.”
The parent wears a bracelet for two things – 1) so the baby knows when the parent is the one caring for her and 2) to connect with the computer when the baby starts crying to confirm care is required.
This baby is 6 pounds and has a computer inside that is programmed for the baby to cry and demand attention. It also records the time spent to show how long it took before the attention was provided and the needs met. It needs 5 basic things – to be fed, burbed, diapered, held, and rocked. Each of these things is recorded either by the position of the baby or by the magnetic connection from the diaper and the bottle. If you don’t figure out what the baby needs within 2 minutes, she will start shrieking and it will take extra long to calm her down.
There are ways to ‘cheat’ on doing the work. One of her classmates taped the bottle to the baby’s hand so she didn’t have to feed her. You could prop her up instead of holding her and get someone else to rock her. So far, Big One is taking her responsibility to heart.
We did laugh about the assignment. The whole family has now become attached to this baby Amber and we all want to know how she’s doing and what she needs. She sits beside Big One as she does homework and she took her out for dinner last night with 3 girlfriends. Part of the assignment is to take the baby in public and take pictures and document the reactions she got from people especially when they noticed that she was a teen-age mom.
She didn’t have anyone say anything rude to her, but she did notice a lot of people looking at her. The waitresses all came by to see the baby and some older ladies came by to touch the baby.
She had to feed the baby several times while they were out and said it was very disruptive to her life. The baby woke her up 5 times in the night and she had to care for it. One time she just wanted to be held and didn’t need feeding or a diaper change. That one was especially hard on Big One, but brought back a lot of memories for us.
I think the assignment is a good one. It really does teach them how challenging it is to get anything done when the baby’s needs come first. I know part of the lesson is so they won’t just see the cute parts of having a baby and understand the work. I hope it doesn’t back-fire for Big One. While I do want her to wait and have children when it is the right time in her life and not as a teenager, she is starting to say she NEVER wants to have kids now that she knows how hard it is.
I won’t worry about changing her mind about that until after she graduates from college!