Babies: we all love them. They’re cute, they giggle and smile, and are so fun to play with. However, a baby is also a big responsibility. You have to feed it, change its diaper, and wake up multiple times in the middle of the night to care for it when it cries. Every year, the juniors at Moorestown Friends get an early taste of parenthood with the infamous “Baby Project.” Each junior gets a baby doll that cries, needs to be rocked, and wakes you up at 1:00 in the morning, just like a real baby.
My experience with the dreaded “Baby Project” started out joyfully. I was excited to get my new child, much to the surprise of my classmates, most of whom were dreading it. They thought I was nuts for wanting the baby, but I didn’t care. I had names picked out in advance and when I walked up to the health room, I finally met my new daughter. I decided to name her Dylan, after the famous Manhattan candy store “Dylan’s Candy Bar.” She looked so cute in her pink pajamas and her carrier. She came with her own bottle and diaper and diary sheet, on which I logged the times she cried and what she wanted.
Carrying her around school all day was not as easy as it looked. That baby was incredibly heavy. My arm still hurts just thinking about it. I was especially nervous for the end of the school day because I had to drive home with Dylan in the backseat of my car. I was so nervous that she would cry while I was driving, and I wasn’t allowed to pull over and do anything.
Just like a real baby, I had to take Dylan everywhere. That night, that place was dance class. She sat in the corner of the dance studio and watched as I took class. She hadn’t cried once since I took her home from school, but that was about to change. After class, I took Dylan out of the dance studio and when I turned back around after getting water, Dylan wasn’t in her carrier! A dance teacher had taken her out of the carrier and was holding Dylan by the arm without supporting the neck. That was the beginning of my nightmare. Dylan wouldn’t stop crying for the next half hour and I felt like I was going to cry right along with her. The screaming was ear-rattling and was loud enough to wake someone a mile away.
The rest of the night was a mess. She woke me up a total of six times that night, so by the time I had to go to school, I was like a walking zombie. However, even though I was exhausted and couldn’t wait to get rid of Dylan, I still managed to somehow appreciate the experience. There are mothers that do this every day. Sometimes there is more than one baby to take care of. This project definitely taught me that I am not ready to be a mother for a while and that when I am one, I will keep hoping that my baby doesn’t wake me up at 3:00 in the morning. I do think that this project is necessary for our curriculum; it definitely has a valuable lesson to be learned. If a high school student makes the decision to be sexually active, and a baby is the result, this project teaches us how great of a responsibility a baby is and how we are definitely not ready as high school juniors to take care of another human being. This project was effective for me, and I hope it was effective for my fellow juniors as well.