December 10, 2008

It's a Boy

We’ve been expecting it for weeks and yesterday was the big day. After school my 13-year-old daughter brought home her 7 lb. 8oz. baby boy. She named him Emmitt. He’s a cute little guy and pretty good, too.

Now before you cluck “Tsk, tsk!” or question the loose morals in our house, understand Emmitt is a health class project. At my daughter’s school every eighth grader is assigned a “baby” to care for overnight.

Emmitt is a life size and weight baby, and eerily real-looking. Even his cry sounds real. He runs on a program that makes him cry at pre-set intervals and records how well he’s cared for. To stop him from crying, the student inserts a key into the baby’s back for anywhere from one to 30 minutes. (Oh, what fun the teacher can have setting the baby for disruptive students!)

My daughter’s choral concert was last night and she had to take Emmitt with her. Thankfully the baby “behaved” during the concert. I can only imagine what she would have done if he started to cry while she was on stage!

In the lobby afterward, more than a few concert-goers shot shocked and curious glances in her direction as she walked through the crowd with her violin case in one hand and a baby carrier in the other! I even received a few “congratulations” from moms who’d already had their turn playing the grandmother role.

Whatever fun Emmitt provided during the day, quickly wore off at night. As any parent knows that's when the real fun with a newborn comes. True to form, Emmitt woke four times during the night. This morning our bleary-eyed daughter dragged herself and her baby to school, only too happy to return it for the next victim…er “parent.” Even this scaled-down simulation showed how hard it is to care for a baby.

As funny as this experience was for our family, it was surreal. And it freaked all of us out a bit. Our dog was convinced the baby was real. She sniffed and fretted and followed it everywhere. My husband said seeing his little girl with her newborn made him feel physically ill. I vacillated between fast forwarding to the day I hope to share this beautiful experience with my daughter and picturing that experience coming at far too young an age.

Overall I have mixed feelings about the baby simulator assignment. Maybe I don’t want to admit my little girl is growing up. Really, how did my daugther travel from American Girl dolls to the possibility of real babies so quickly? Did I miss something along the way? Do we really need to get discuss pregnancy with eighth graders?

Apparently, yes we do. Each year about a million teenage girls get pregnant. And some of them are nice Christian girls from godly families, girls just like our own. As parents, we can teach purity, listen and guide but ultimately this isn’t a decision we can control. How I pray for my daughter, and for all teenage girls, as they navigate the difficult, confusing and not-always-well-marked road to adulthood.


Chatty Kelly said...

AMEN and amen! This is a critically important subject. No that I advocate "sex education" but that parents have an open dialoge about the families morals and standards AND what to do if you decide not to follow those standards. Not just teaching them to say "no", but HOW to say no acting out different scenarios.

I'm glad you were able to send the baby back, and pray that you will have great joy in the years from now when your real grandchild comes.

Runner Mom said...

Emmitt is a cutie! What a great experience for your daughter! I hope that y'all get caught up on your sleep tonight!

Cheryl Barker said...

Kelli, we were fortunate that our girls got to be involved in True Love Waits events. We also gave them purity rings on their 16th birthdays (the age we allowed them to start dating). God bless as you navigate the years ahead!

Sassy Granny ... said...

The reality, as we know so well, is dramatically different from the adolescent view of pregnancy & parenthood. I'm all for giving them a dose of the reality without their actually having to struggle with the real life scenario of teen pregnancy.

Thank God there are parents that will open the channels of communication on this much needed subject. T.V., the internet, friends, and the general worldview is saturated with mis-information.

By the way: Congratulations on your grandmotherhood!


Terri Tiffany said...

What a wonderful thing your school did! I didn't know they had something as real like that to use. I bet it opened many eyes. I see someone said their child did the purity rings--we did that as well with our daughter. It is a tough road these days but with much prayer and openess with your children we can see them through.
Thank you for your encouraging words on my blog--somedays, I am at a loss of what to write and when I read such kind feedback, it so helps!

Terri Tiffany said...

In response to your comment on my blog, I usually find it works better if I pick a place to submit to first, read the guidelines and write something for it. But if you have a story to be told in your head, search for a place to write it but write it after you find the place!

Carol said...

Oh my! What an experience.

Thanks for stopping by and leaving a sweet comment. :) Carol

Sassy Granny ... said...

Me again, dropping by to let you know I've posted a special award for you. Drop by and pick it up, and to see your name in lights!