SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
My daughter brought home a baby the other day, and I was none too pleased, let me tell you.
It wasn’t a real baby – not exactly – but it was very nearly as annoying as one. It was, in fact, Baby Think It Over. BTIO is a very realistic infant designed to show school kids what it would be like to deal with a real baby, without the mess and stress of actually having a real baby. As part of her child development class, Jillian was required to take the baby home for a full weekend.
Side note – we never had a child development class when I was in school. There was a home economics class, but none of the guys took it, except for those few who were smart enough to realize that’s where the girls would be.
Murphy’s Law being what it is, the weekend we drew for the baby was a holiday weekend – Halloween. Murphy being the kind of guy who loves a good laugh, Jillian and I both caught colds that weekend. I tried to get us out of it (the baby, not the colds), explaining to the teacher that it wasn’t good to expose the baby to germs, but she wasn’t buying.
Truthfully, I didn’t think it was a big deal. Yes, the doll is designed to start crying periodically, at intervals ranging from half to three hours, and you have to hold a key in its back until it’s fed, or burped, or changed, or whatever. But, computer chip or no, it was still a doll, and those have been around my house for years. (Not my dolls, mind you. Well, okay, the one, but I can explain.)
I didn’t realize what kind of trouble I was in for until my daughters started arguing over what to name the baby. I wanted to name it “doll”. Okay, I didn’t want to name it anything – it was a doll. But the kids turned naming a doll we’d only have for three days into a battle royale, until they finally settled on Trey.
“Trey?” I said. “That’s French for three. I don’t want one French baby in my house, let alone three. We’ll spend all our time bailing it out of trouble, and it’ll turn around and refuse to support us in our old age.”
Having no sense of history, the kids ignored me. Apparently all I was good for was holding the kid, driving it places, and handing out money. That’s when I realized I was a grandfather!
And let me tell you, I’m way too young to be a grandfather.
As advertised, Trey did indeed turn into a crybaby for the entire weekend. (Notice I didn’t make a French joke, here.) In fact, Trey would begin crying – loudly – at the most inopportune times, such as when we were in the car, the store, or the REM stage of sleep. From the next room, I would hear my daughter roll out of bed at 4:30 a.m., and I’d smile to myself … the best thing about being a grandparent is Sweet Revenge. It got even better when I watched the baby – um, doll -- while Jillian was handing out Halloween candy: the little angel didn’t cry once while under my care.
So there was certainly a level of realism. However, I think it would have been more realistic if someone could engineer, say, little diaper surprises, or projectile vomiting, to go along with those crying jags. Getting one of those dolls – we’ll call them Baby Grab a Towel – into the hands of every high schooler would probably result in a population implosion.
Jillian became one of those overprotective mothers, bundling the kid in every blanket we owned and demanding references of anyone who wanted to hold it. And everyone wanted to hold it. My mother – who kept referring to herself as “great-grandmother”, which somehow made me feel even older – rocked the doggone thing. Well – okay, I did too, but not when anyone was watching.
One of our jobs (notice I said our, even though it was supposed to be her) was to complete a checklist in which we were to list the price of every item ever made for babies, at any time throughout recorded history. The list was so long that volume 1 was just the index. In the hopes of getting all the prices for these items in one place, we drove to a place that I won’t identify, other than to say it had the initials Wal Mart.
We were there for so long that three different managers asked if we were the new associates in the baby section.
Probably the low point of the weekend for me was when my daughter and her friend, who my daughter drafted as godmother for the weekend, began comparing the relative costs and features of breast pumps. First of all, how many different features could there be? Second of all, can I please go to electronics until you two are done?
Trey broke into screaming jags several times during the eleven hours we spent at Wal-Mart that weekend. He could be heard – I know this for a fact – from six aisles away. I later found out that half a dozen people called 911 to report abuse, when really it was the baby abusing us.
According to our final calculations, it costs just over 1.4 million dollars to raise a single baby for one month, and that doesn’t include hospital bills. That, in itself, should be enough to make anyone Think It Over, Baby.