Yesterday, our own Lindsey Adler sent me this BuzzFeed story about a married woman in her early 30s who cares for a robot baby for a week because she feels ambivalent about children. “Just like high school!” I said. “Ha,” Lindsey replied, but I could tell she meant, “What the fuck are you talking about?”
Here’s how it went down at my high school: For one quarter every year, gym class would be replaced with a “health” class. By senior year, students had gone through D.A.R.E. and had been sufficiently traumatized by garish photos of fatal car crashes and STDs, so we attacked the real practical stuff necessary for fledgling adults. First, we planned a wedding. This was supposed to impart upon us that adulthood is expensive and compromise is often necessary, but the budgets were extravagant and we got to pick our partners. My friend and I planned a lavish affair at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens.
Next up, naturally enough, came the babies—robot babies with heavy battery packs lodged in their backs whose heads felt like shaved suede, for the purpose of teaching us not to have sex in high school. They cried periodically, shrill mechanical wails that wouldn’t stop until they received fake baby care. If you failed to attend to them quickly enough or jostled the baby too much while it was “sleeping,” the baby technology took note and took off half a letter grade. There were two options: Be saddled with this devil baby doll Monday through Friday with the option of dropping it off at “daycare” by arriving to school early, or take it home for the shorter but unrelenting weekend shift. I opted for a weekend baby, which says exactly what you think it does about how cool I was in high school. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the experience. It didn’t feel transformative, but it felt like a rite of passage akin to posing awkwardly with a prom date.
When Lindsey told me she had had no experience with robot babies, I opened it up to the Deadspin staff and learned not a single one of them had ever done this. A few said robot babies were part of an optional class at their high schools, which feels counterproductive to driving home the point that babies are an unpredictable but potentially non-negotiable side effect of sex and others mentioned caring for eggs or bags of flour. From the sounds of it, the older generation was just told “no fucking yet, bah!” and sent on their way.
Despite the results of the sample size, it seems “infant simulators” are still a thing in school districts. Did you get a robo-baby or empty egg shell to care for and love as your own, and if so, how was your experience? Did your high school teach you actual practical adult skills? Do they just screen Teen Mom for high schoolers now and call it a day?