Teen Parent for a Weekend
Originally Published: May 28, 2013
Revised: May 28, 2013
The screaming of a baby woke me up at 4 a.m. on Monday morning. I was exhausted and frustrated with this baby—not a real baby, but an infant simulator doll that I had to take care of for health class. I picked up the baby, looked at it and realized all at once that I don’t want a baby for a very long time. If I didn’t have the patience to take care of a fake baby, how in the world could I take care of a real one? This weekend had been one of the longest of my life. I was a walking zombie at school later that day—cranky as ever, but very happy that I could return the doll.
Teen Parenting at First
It all started last Friday after school when I picked up the doll. I had no idea what I was in for. Taking care of the doll simulates caring for a newborn. The doll cries very loudly, and I had to hold it, rock it, feed it with the bottle provided or change its diaper with the diapers I had been given. Everyone in my class would have a weekend to take care of one of two dolls, but of course, one of my classmates and I got stuck with the dolls on a big weekend when we had a football game and block party. I had to figure out how to work the baby into my schedule, since I had unexpectedly become a mother.
Friday night, a night that I am usually out with my friends, I had to stay in to care for my “child.” Every two hours or so, the baby would cry, and I would either feed it or change its diaper. I found this fairly easy. With my newfound confidence, I felt ready to take on this baby challenge. The baby woke up twice during that first night. Each time it woke up, I fed and burped it, and then, it fell asleep. No big deal.
If I didn’t have the patience to take care of a fake baby, how in the world could I take care of a real one?
On the Outside Looking In
Saturday was a big day for my high school. There was a huge football game and block party that I had to work. I worked at a concession stand and then a face-painting booth. Thankfully, my teacher shut off the baby while I worked from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. But, as soon as 5 o’clock hit, the baby began to wail because it needed to be fed.
Despite the episodes of screaming, I stayed at the party until 10 p.m. I had a little bit of fun, but I couldn’t contain my jealousy. My friends were carefree while I was a teen parent, sitting on the sidewalk with a frown and a car seat with a doll in it. This was unlike me, sitting on the outside and looking in. I usually love being a part of the fun, but I couldn’t—not this weekend anyway.
Teen Parent No More
Sunday arrived, and compared to Saturday, it was a pretty relaxed day. I did some homework and was happy to stay home. But that night was when I really reached my breaking point.
Almost every hour from 2 to 5 a.m., the baby woke up screaming, waking me from my much needed sleep. Considering the fact that I had school the next day, I was upset to say the least. Waking up the next day at 7 a.m., I was frustrated and beyond cranky. I was so exhausted that I chose the simplest things to wear, jeans and a t-shirt, since I couldn’t think straight. The doll automatically shut off at 7a.m., and I was so glad to be done with it.
I walked to school, excited to finally give the doll back to my health teacher. But this project forced me to think about what it’s actually like to be a teen parent. I wondered why our school has seniors do this project. Senior year, when people are close to graduating, seems a little late to be learning about how hard it is to be a teen parent. The project would be great for younger teens, like freshman and sophomores, who could experience teen parenthood with a doll and also learn about deciding if they’re ready for sex and safer sex methods.
I already know that I’m not ready to be a parent, because I can barely take care of myself. I realized that being a teenager is a time to cherish and enjoy. Once I gave the doll back, I was happy to get back to being carefree.
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