Last Monday, just like pretty much every eighth-grader in America, I became a mother. The mother of a robot.
Yes, my class has just taken part in that tradition known as the Baby Project. And while most schools give you a sack of flour or an egg and tell you to take care of it for a week, probably to persuade us to not have kids in the near future, our school decided to do something different. We got put into boy-girl pairs (so progressive, right?) and made a chart to figure out what our babies would look like in real life using the power of an eighth grade science textbook about genetics. My partner and I ended up with a blond robot baby with sickle-cell disease and male pattern baldness.
Robot babies are exactly like real babies—same average weight, soft skin, smells weird, cries for all different reasons ALL THE TIME, everything. We all got these wristbands put on us that can tell when you’re near the baby, and you can’t take it off without cutting it—like one of those alcohol-monitoring ankle bracelets, but for fake babies. The robot infant comes with diapers with sensors in them that you have to change, a bottle that you have to feed it with, and some clothes. Then you are left to figure it out on your own. Oh, and the information about what you do with the baby is saved and graded.
The robot babies were unhappy. They would scream and cry in classes and in the middle of the night, and you get 10 seconds to figure out what they want and get it for them or you get 1% taken off your grade. Ugghhhhh. As a bonus, you get your lab partner constantly telling everyone you’re married, breaking the baby’s neck (yeah, you can do that to robot babies—goodbye, good grades), and putting Build-A-Bear football uniforms on it. Oh joy.
I actually started sobbing with the baby at one point out of sheer frustration, and I wish I had recorded it for you guys. It’s just so loud and it never gives you a break and I flipped out for a minute.
And guess what? I even got a dirty look from a woman outside our school when she saw me carrying the baby. They’re super lifelike, I suppose, and from far away they look very real, so I guess she thought I really had a baby. Therefore, glaring at me is a reasonable response. I mean, how dare I maybe have a child in HER city! All these teen mothers, getting pregnant on purpose, just to annoy her! How obnoxious!
I know I shouldn’t be too concerned about this because I’m not actually pregnant or a mother, so it’s not really a problem for me. But I’m pretty upset about people’s attitudes towards pregnant teenagers/teen moms. As if having a baby isn’t hard enough, nobody needs all these people who don’t even know their story judging them.
And yeah, it was REALLY hard to take care of the baby. I believe we got a 69% on attentiveness to the baby, and it was STILL super stressful. I guess the project was successful, because I have a lot more empathy for new parents of any age now, and I probably will die a virgin, just out of fear that I’ll have to be a parent someday.
Anyway, I guess I learned a lot, and I am happy that it’s over. ♦