Friday, May 18, 2007

Parenting... sort of...

Last spring, slogging through the mire of required courses for my high school age son, we discovered that every student is required to take a half credit parenting class. Trying to be proactive, we decided to get it out of the way during the second semester of this, his freshman year. We were presented with two options: Child Psychology and Parenting. We knew that in one of the courses, a weekend with a computerized baby was required. Logic dictated that the baby would be part of the Parenting class, so my son signed up for Child Psychology.

Apparently logic has nothing to do with high school courses, because my son was assigned a weekend in April with “Wing Lee”, his Asian baby. In preparation for our guest, my son cancelled all of his plans. He ditched the movie with his friends, declined to sing in the choir at church, and planned to stay inside with Wing Lee all weekend. There was no way in hell he was dragging a baby doll out anywhere with him.

On Friday, I drove to school to pick Sam up. He trudged out of the school with a blanket covered lump in a car seat, a diaper bag, and grim expression. The entire trip home he fiddled with the sensor bracelet that he would have to scan over the baby’s stomach or back before dealing with it, to confirm that he was the caregiver. We got home, unloaded, and waited for the “activation”. His teacher had refused to give any inkling as to time of launch.

Wing Lee's arrival

Around 4:00pm Wing Lee began to cry. He had 4 cries: Feeding, Changing, Burping, and Rocking. The student was required to “chime” the infant with his wrist band, determine the baby’s need and meet it, and then record the time and his comments. The first few hours were basically uneventful, with feedings and changings and miscellaneous cooing sounds in between.

The feeding and changing cries became easy to identify. The burping and rocking were indistinguishable and were increasingly grating. It took between fifteen and thirty minutes to satisfy the burping or rocking cry. Apparently Wing Lee had colic... or rust on his microchip... either way he was one unhappy electronic infant.

Wing Lee being unhappy

Sam had planned to just forgo sleep for the weekend, but we convinced him that he needed to try to sleep when the baby did. He shut his door for the night, Wing Lee tucked safely in his car seat.

Saturday morning found Sam up early with Wing Lee. The night wasn’t too bad, but knowing what his friends had gone through, he knew that Saturday night was bound to be horrible. The weather was gorgeous, but taking Wing Lee outside would be risky. If anyone bumped the seat or jostled him wrong it could cost points. If Wing Lee was picked up without perfect head support, he would wail for what felt like an hour. We took him in the back yard for a short while, feeding, changing, burping and rocking and generally not enjoying the day.

By afternoon we were getting sick of Wing Nut’s whining. He had no schedule at all. The teacher told the students that he had varying schedules, but I have had three children and ten nieces and nephews and none of them had any “schedule” like Wing Nut. He would cry to be fed, take the bottle for 10 minutes, be quiet for 5 minutes and want to be fed again. Once he ate 4 times in one hour with no burping. The burping was completely random and unrelated to feeding. As a teaching tool, this thing was ridiculous. If it had a learning curve, where the student could begin to anticipate the baby’s needs, maybe it would have made sense, but the random absurd demands taught nothing.

Saturday night, Sam was up with Wong Fu 12 times. He was exhausted. We found him on the couch in the morning, baby next to him apparently sleeping. “Sure, sleep now, Stupid!” my son glared at it. Wing Nut demanded Sam’s full attention Saturday and by nightfall he was a mess. He dreaded going to bed because he was certain that the baby would cry every five minutes.

We put an air mattress next to our bed and kept Sam and Wong Fu company for the night. He wasn’t up as often, but Monday morning, we were all ready for Wing Nut to go back to school.

With relish I completed my parent portion of the baby packet. I stated that the tool was foolish and useless. I do not think it will deter teens from having sex. I do not think that in the heat of the moment, a teen will stop and say, “Oh no! Remember Wing Nut! We should stop!” The experience did not kick off any conversations about parenting because we have already had them. I ranted about the lack of schedule and the horror of keeping a fifteen year old up all night with a guessing game. C’mon, at night it couldn’t be programmed to change, eat, burp and go back to sleep? I made clear the fact that this was a parenting activity and had no place in a Child Psych class. Luckily my pages did not count as part of his grade. He managed to get a 90% all on his own. With one unsupported head pick up and one cry that went unanswered because we couldn’t figure out what the hell Wing Nut wanted, he passed with flying colors.

Wing Lee by the end of his visit (We had all aged)

What did we learn from this wonderful experience? I’m making sure my other sons sign up for Parenting Class.



Bart said...

I've always suspected that this was meant to be a baby version of "Scared Straight." Try to freak kids out when it comes to having a baby of their own. If it worked better, it might actually accomplish that, but anybody with half a brain, or have ever dealt with a baby brother or sister (or a friends baby brother or sister) knows it's an arbitrary piece o' crap.

Marva said...

I'm cracking up here. Wing Nut? Be happy he didn't have to keep the brat for three or four years until it becamse sentient.

I suppose the kids should get a passing grade if they didn't rip its head off.

PoliShifter said...

I am glad they didn't have this when I was in High School. All that for 1/2 credit?

Sounds like some serious bullshit. I am inclined to agree with bart that Falwell must have played some role in implementing this program or Robertson.

I can understand having a class and discussing parenting. After all, some people will start early either by choice or my accident...but to carry it this far? I'm sorry but I find it very strange.

And Marva, for being 250 years old, you're smoking hot...

RUTH said...

Thank goodness it was only for a weekend!

Mauigirl said...

LOL, if it had been me I'd have probably taken Wing Nut and decapitated him! (There is a reason I don't have kids). ;-)

Women on the Verge said...

Wing Nut was lucky he wasn't drop kicked out the back door on several occasions. In fact, the school must know how horrid it is because parents have to sign a contract acknowledging that the piece of crap is $450 if broken. Large fines seem to be a deterrant to shaken baby syndrome in this case!

Wayward Son said...

I am thinking Sam may have come away from this exercise with an understanding of how important family can be to the act of parenting. Certainly that was what struck me first—what a great, supportive family all of you are. Otherwise, it did seem a lesson in futility, which I guess is a part of parenting, no? By that I mean sometimes it is never known why a baby cries, just sweet relief when it stops. It all makes a great story, though!


Not Your Mama said...

Don't you love the way the schools take control of even your home life?

Marva said...

Oh, Polishifter, you turn a girl's head.

PoliShifter said...

Hi Marva, my main blog is but thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it.

Women on the Verge said...

WS, That may be true, but I have to say that if the damn baby had a more realistic schedule it would have been more of a learning experience. After all, as parents, we "learn" our babies and anticipate their needs. This bolsters our confidence and is rewarding. This random quiz show of crying was about as unrewarding as it gets. Thank God it's over.

Jamie said...

I am just roaring with laughter. My children are now safely into their 40s, but I remember well my 19 year old self with infant and equally young husband who thought everything to do with said infant was "women's work" (why did this marriage fail?). He relented a smidge the night after three weeks of colic, the baby cried and I threw the helpful "Meowwww ... it's awake again" cat at the wall.

Celebrity Styleaholic Najwa Moses said...


Lola Heatherton said...

I can't believe that Little Wing Li grew such a formidable moustache and goatee ins merely a weekend. How amazing! And, look at his equipment. Would I be out of line if I said I wanted to bear all his....

No, I'm not going there.

Gene Bach said...

Years ago I could have handled that. Now I would fill the bath tub, tie a rock around Wing Nut's neck and dump him in.

If you want to deter teens from having sex put them all under hypnosis and give them a suggestion that every time they are near a girl and start to "feel the urge" that the girl immediately looks like Rosie O'Donnel. Even a teen wouldn't hit that. :-O

Women on the Verge said...

LOL, gene!
Maybe if Wing Nut's cry sounded like Rosie ranting about teen sex... Wait, we would have all been suicidal by Monday.

Mando Mama said...

OMG! I thought these exercises were out of style! As nearly everyone here has said, what a waste of time. Real babies give something back to those who are paying attention.

Sam is so lucky to have you as a mom, and Wing Nut Lee Fa Mulan Whatever Ha Lu SO lucky you were his grandma. It sounds like an absolute effin nightmare. I think you should lock the teachers, the principal, and the assistant principal in for a Wing Lee Weekend.

Congrats to your son Sam for toughing it out. Remind him that when the day arrives, the real thing is quite different, and actually rewarding, otherwise he wouldn't be here to hear you tell it.