“Don’t expect any grandchildren from me!” yelled my 16 year-old daughter.
We were parked on the side of the road, wind blowing, rain pelting on the roof, rush-hour traffic whizzing by on route 430. Amy had the back door of the car open and she was trying to wrestle the baby out of the car seat with no luck, and the baby had just reached the screaming stage.
I think it is safe to say that, at that moment, I really didn’t want a grandchild anyway.
“It’s not scanning!” cried my daughter, waving her hand over the baby and getting no results. I wasn’t sure what the results were supposed to be, but judging from the look on her face, they weren’t happening.
Never, in all my child-rearing years, had I ever waved my hand over a baby and expected it to stop crying.
“I can’t get the baby out!” she yelled. “This is going to be a ‘missed care’ and I’m going to fail!” I elbowed her aside and unfastened the seatbelt and the harness. The baby’s cries were pitiful, but they were as nothing compared to what would happen next. I took hold of the baby and lifted it out, handing it to my daughter. It began to scream and, I must confess, so did she. “You didn’t support its head!” she yelled. “Its neck is probably broken!”
Talk about trauma.
The Tories have come up with a plan to encourage Newfoundlanders to have more children. They are paying $1000 per baby and a parental leave subsidy of $100 per month added to EI insurance to sweeten the deal. It sounds good, but I’m about to let you in on a little secret; the government’s bid to increase the population may never fly, owing to the Baby Think It Over Program introduced into Newfoundland high schools. If my daughter’s weekend experience is any indicator, the RealCare Baby II—a realistic infant simulator—is at sixes and sevens with the Tory’s aim to encourage more births.
The Baby Think It Over program was implemented to help students make educated decisions about child rearing. It works to a point, but only to a point. For instance, when I first heard the baby cry, all the old nurturing instincts flooded back, until I took the baby in my arms. That’s when the reality hit; this ‘baby’ was no more than an intractable doll. A real baby is soft and flexible and nestles its downy head into the crook of a parent’s shoulder; a real baby interacts with the caregiver; cooing, smiling, and making eye contact. Amy found this baby to be all drudgery with few rewards. “It’s just a machine,” she protested, although I’m willing to bet it might have mollified her somewhat if she had received a government cheque in the amount of $1000.
The baby’s cries were very real; when she arrived there were plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ from friends and relatives. Even the cat was interested; she tried to help the baby by lying down beside it and purring and flexing her claws while it had its bottle, and to be fair, it sounded exactly like a nursing infant; when it was rocked, it murmured and cooed, reminding us of the sounds our own children made. We even gave her a name, Annabel Lee, after the poem by Edgar Allan Poe. “It was many and many a year ago, in a kingdom by the sea, that a maiden there lived whom you may know by the name of Annabel Lee; and this maiden she lived with no other thought than to love and be loved by me.”
Wherever we went, we took Annabel Lee with us, but never was she more colicky than on Thanksgiving Sunday when we took her to turkey dinner at her uncle and aunt’s. She wasn’t about to let Amy enjoy the meal. She cried for her bottle; she cried for a burp; she cried for a diaper change, she cried to be rocked, and, as we were going out the door, she cried even more lustily, forcing Amy’s uncle to remark, “That’s one cross youngster!” Interestingly enough, though, the baby barely squawked at the church service that followed.
Danny Williams has been heard to protest, “We can’t be in a situation where our population is shrinking,” but I’m thinking Mr. Williams hasn’t heard about this Program; otherwise, he might have consigned Baby Think It Over to the same sad fate as Poe’s Annabel Lee.
As sure as you’re born, this program is probably the most effective form of birth control in Newfoundland today.