The Baby Project

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The Baby Project

Kenleigh Theis

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Springtime means a few things for students at LFHS. With the end of the year on its way, many students have their sights set on prom, finals, and AP exams. However for the students in Mrs. Anderson’s Advanced Health class, the end of the year brings something a little different: The Baby Project.

Advanced Health is an extremely popular class taught by beloved teacher, Mrs. Anderson. It is designed for soon-to-be college bound juniors and seniors to enhance student awareness of strategies and prevention regarding their personal health. The class also includes a focus on life in college and beyond. Students learn about self and social awareness, social responsibility, sexual responsibility, drug education, nutrition, fitness, and health.

So far, all of this seems normal enough, right? Well, at the end of the year, the students are challenged to put many of the skills they have learned throughout the course to take care of a baby. For the project, the Wellness Department purchased five Real Care Babies and five Real Care Pregnancy Simulators. The ultimate goal of the project is for students to “gain valuable knowledge regarding the demands of parenting.”

Mrs. Anderson further explained, “The core of the program is a parenting simulation using Baby Think It Over, a computerized infant simulator. The parenting simulation is designed to help young adults understand three important facts about babies: babies’ demands are unpredictable and must be met promptly, babies require a great deal of time and attention, and babies change a parent’s life profoundly. The program helps young adults explore the physical, emotional, and social demands of parenthood. The infant simulator, or “Baby,” will cry at random, unpredictable times 24 hours a day and require the student to care for it by inserting their parent ID and giving proper care to infant. The baby will cry when care is needed. Baby will also cry if held in a position it does not like or if it is roughly handled or abused.”

Having been in the class last year, I remember the project very well. The project begins with a quick tutorial and a cautionary warning from Mrs. Anderson. Then, came the pregnancy bellies. Needless to say, these can create quite a stir. I went out to dinner with my friends that night and remember being so embarrassed to have it. The number of crazy looks I got that day were incredible.

After wearing the pregnancy belly for a day, I was most definitely ready to meet my baby. When I walked into class and was given my baby, I could not have been more excited. Having watched Top Gun the previous night, I thought it was fitting to name my baby “Goose.” Diaper bag around shoulder and carrier in arm, Goose and I were ready to conquer the rest of the day together.

However, baby Goose’s novelty quickly wore off as the crying began. No matter what I did, I could not get Goose to stop crying. At one point, I had to have my mom hold the baby just so I could have thirty minutes of quiet to study for an upcoming test. After a long day, I was ready for bed. I changed and fed Goose, placed her in her rocker next to my bed, and quickly fell asleep. However, I was not asleep for long. I was rudely awakened four times during the night by Goose’s cries. It felt like the night would never end.

After talking to a number of my peers, I found that I was not alone in my experience. Senior Sammy O’Connell said, “I hated my baby Pablo. I legit locked it in a closet and put a pillow over its head so I could go back to sleep. This project taught me that I am not patient and I need to rethink my plan of having children for the future.” While I cannot say that I disliked my baby to the extent that Sammy did, there were most definitely times where I felt like baby Goose was bringing me to the end of my rope.

After a sleepless night and a stressful drive to school the next morning, it was time to give Goose back. And I must admit, though Goose tested my patience at times, I couldn’t help but feel a bit melancholy before returning her. I most definitely am glad that I had the opportunity to participate in this project last year and I think that there is a valuable lesson to be learned. Junior Maggie Biers commented, “I thought having a fake baby was a great experience to understand the difficulties of parenthood. I learned a lot from this experience, and I had a lot of fun!”

If you have the opportunity to take this class, I would strongly recommend it. The entire course is extremely useful and teaches lessons that can be applied in everyday life, inside and outside of high school. The baby project was for sure my favorite part, though. I know I gained a lot from the experience and had fun doing it. Mrs. Anderson commented, “Thanks to the Lake Forest Foundation, Lake Forest High School is fortunate to have the Baby Think It Over Program. It is an incredible hands-on experience on the physical, mental/emotional, and social demands of parenting. Through their reflections and stories they share, I am 100% confident to say that they have learned many things from this valuable program.”