Friday, March 2, 2012

Baby Crankenstein

Our family living class is taking turns babysitting this little machine. He comes with a carrier, diaper bag full of supplies and a sensor that recognizes a wrist band attached to a caregiver. Each student has three days and nights at a stretch with the cranky little being, who acts, in many ways like a real baby. He has to be fed, changed, burped, rocked, and everything but ignored. His computer records all aspects of his treatment and each student is graded according to how much attention and positive care he awarded the "baby".  The teacher has tried to schedule mostly weekends for this assignment, but that's impossible for everybody, so the doll was in my class this morning. I was able to rock and burp him while the assigned student took a test for my class. It didn't take too long. Then, he settled his cute little plastic head right down on my shoulder and slept. In some ways, I can see that this activity might be good for a student, particularly one who doesn't realize that babies are going to need care.

However, I have a lot of reservations. At first glance, this educational tool seems innocuous, or even beneficial. But, unless it is handled correctly, there could be an undesirable corollary to the activity. I can see students deciding that a child is too much trouble to keep. This one cries a lot, keeps everyone up at night, and never smiles or gurgles with that delightful laughter that convinces a mom she is raising a rare treasure. I think the sleepless nights, the curtailing of planned activities, the sheer enormity of the responsibility might encourage abortions, or decisions to avoid having a child--ever.

Children are a lot of trouble. That's true.
It's also true that the joy they bring is worth far more than all the trouble.

As I held Baby Crankenstein this morning, I remembered a time long ago--thirty two years ago to be exact--when I held my own, colicky, two-month old baby in the middle of a long, sleepless night.
I sat there rocking and wrote her a poem.

So in the morning at two o'clock
We sit together--sit and rock
And your head feels very soft against my shoulder.
Someday, Baby, when you're older
Then, I'll let you go.
But, Please God, let the coming of that day be slow.