Wednesday, November 6, 2013


Two weekends ago, the day my teenage daughter, R, had been dreading for weeks came upon us.

She became a mother. A mother specifically to (anatomically correct) Asian baby boy "B" who she lovingly called Alejandro, lest he be confused about his racial identity.

Alejandro would be among the living for about 50 hours and she was required to take care of him, as if she were his real mother and as if he were real. When he cried (through a speaker in his belly) she was responsible for figuring out what was the matter. Did he need a diaper change, a bottle, a burp or rocking?

Alejandro was heavy and life like, complete with a bobbly head. He came with a computer chip embedded that reported back to R's teacher if he was properly being taken care of.  A chip in his diaper that reported back to the teacher if his diaper was changed in a timely matter.  If his head bobbled too much it told the teacher. An electronic bottle needed to be held right to Alejandro's mouth for the proper amount of time.

Serious business, right?

The part that she was least excited about was the fact that baby Alejandro was programmed to cry intermittently during the day and during the night. The point being that baby Alejandro was supposed to be like a real baby, and real babies cry all day and all night.

"I'm going to get NO sleep for two whole nights! It's going to be terrible!" she moaned before Alejandro even showed up.

I assured her that no one has ever died from sleeping poorly for two nights. She seemed skeptical. Teenagers, you know, they need their sleep. And then I laughed to myself because her room is in the basement.  Hey, I'm just the fake grandma, there's no reason I need to lose sleep too.

The day came and R got the baby from her teacher and then raced home from school, dropped him off and headed back to basketball practice. So in the first two hours of Alejandro's life I had to baby sit. Welcome to fake grandma-hood.

Frankly, it was nerve wracking.  I was afraid it (he?) would cry and I wouldn't know what was wrong. And what if I jiggled the head when I picked it up and the computer reported it?!?! It was really quiet for the first hour and a half and we wondered if it was even alive. Then we realized it was breathing.....well, the sound of breathing anyway. Then out of the blue it started crying. A recorded baby cry that sounded totally real and slightly creepy.

Let me tell you, a fake baby that actually cries is highly interesting to all the assorted neighborhood kids that happen to be moving herd-like through your house (ask me how many times a day I say, "shut the door please!"). I had quite the captive audience as I attempted to soothe the crying fake baby.

When Miss Basketball got home, I happily handed over Alejandro and she tended him for a whole hour before she had to leave to fill her volunteer time with the disabled. This time, she had made arrangements for her friend next door to babysit while she was gone for the next two hours.

Let's all say it together now, "deadbeat parent".

Ha, just kidding. After that, she was totally hands on. Night and day, she was mothering cute (creepy) Alejandro. She even took him out on the town on Saturday for a serious shopping expedition with her aunt (who tried her hardest to hit all the major local shopping delights while they were visiting).

And then, as quickly as he came, he was gone.  He breathed his last creepy electronic breath, and we all sighed in relief.

Teenage motherhood is not something I would predict in R's near future, and mothering Alejandro just reinforced that fact. She does not want to be a mother now. Someday, yes, she will be an amazing mother, but for now we are both content that she's an amazing kid.

1 comment:

  1. It used to be an egg that represented the baby. I know the courses are done to prepare high-schoolers or warn them about early parenthood, but I wonder how many pseudo-grannies really do the caretaking. You're right, a screaming, but not real, baby would be freaky!