An electronic baby boy, that is…
(photo courtesy of RealityWorks Inc.)
My sophomore daughter is taking Child Development and this was her weekend to parent an electronic newborn that she named “Lucas” (well for half a day, after which time he became known as “dammit”…yeah, we’ll talk about her language another time). Lucas arrived last Thursday but wasn’t programmed to come to life until 4pm Friday.
These babies are “lifelike” in that they are programmed to cry, coo, scream, etc. at random times depending on their needs. The kids have been taught basic skills to soothe the baby starting with first acknowledging the need to take action through an electronic bracelet worn by “mom” or “dad”…(and I don’t mean me!) that has to be “chimed” within 2 minutes of a cry or sound (or you get dinged points). From there you try and calm the baby by changing a diaper, feeding, burping, rocking (you get the idea). And like real babies, there’s no pattern and sometimes nothing works for these babies. (boy did those memories come back!)
No one but the teen “works” in taking care of the baby (there is a childcare bracelet that I conveniently forgot to ask about). They have to record the activity and what they did to resolve it; and the baby records the time it takes to resolve it on it’s internal computer. Mishandling the baby’s head and neck results in bit-time points lost and two “head snaps” in short amount of time pretty much ensures failure as it is recorded as shaken baby syndrome.
Night 1, Lucas was pretty mellow til 1:30 am when he had a full-on crying jag for about 15 minutes. Nothing worked (and nothing I suggested was met with anything but resistance so I pretty much tuned the kid out the rest of the weekend…). Then in a completely non-realistic way, Lucas slept til 8:30 am…c’mon, I thought this was supposed to be realistic, people!
And so my daughter hung around with this bundle of joy all weekend, tending to his needs, with as little effort as could be expended…Did you know you can prop the bottle (which has a magnet to trigger feeding) and basically go on about your business? Or that you can “change” a diaper by merely rubbing the new diaper (with sensor) in the area of the “wet” diaper and have success? Apparently there’s a way to simplify the care of the baby that all the kids share with each other. Teen ingenuity.
Lucas and my daughter have been delivered back to school (but not without one last crying jag while getting ready for school…that’s at least realistic!). I’m sure there is value in the program, but I couldn’t help but remember all the other things that I had to do when my daughter was an infant (and alone as my husband traveled every week): Make real formula, change real messy diapers, bathe the baby, wipe up spit-up, clean up baby stuff from all over the house, do massive amounts of laundry, work outside the house, deal with being awake all night long some nights…You get the picture. Somehow parked on a couch with the TV remote, 17 Magazine, a Gameboy and the electronic baby just isn’t the same.
Overall, my daughter did pretty well. She’s going to be tired for a few days with her interrupted sleep (paybacks…I had 3 1/2 years of uninterrupted sleep from the day she was born…largely why she has no siblings!). For now she is pretty sure babies are in the very distant future for her. If the program keeps a few girls from romanticizing babies and getting pregnant in high school, then that’s a good thing.