FILED IN: Parenting

Just say no…freaking way is parenthood for me.

I was fascinated by a recent conversation I had with a very lively fourteen-year-old girl about her "Family Living" class. That’s what they call "Sex Ed" (giggle) now. She told me about the new high-tech tool the schools are using to keep teens out of Abercrombie maternity smocks.

Everyone in her class had to take home a baby doll for the weekend. But not just any plain old Betsy Wetsy. These new dolls have chips in them that go off at random times, causing the baby to start wailing. The student then has to figure out if the baby is hungry or if it needs a change, or maybe just a cuddle. The doll is so advanced it can even detect if the head is not being supported properly.
If the baby’s needs are not attended to within ninety seconds the neglect is registered on the memory chip. If this happens I suppose the poor ninth-grader is judged unworthy of future parenthood and gets either an "F", a chastity belt, salt peter in the tater tots, a lifetime supply of condoms or maybe all of the above.

Ninety seconds? I woulda flunked for sure. I pride myself in my ability to ignore my kids’ wails, whines and wallops. I would get an “A” in Hiding From Your Kids 101. Any mother worth her salt can tell by the time the baby is a few weeks old whether or not it’s worth dropping the pots and pans to rush to the child’s side. It’s just pure survival. Crazy as this has always seemed to me, some people love the baby years. Random screaming does not bother them. For those teens who are bound to become adults who love diapers and spit-up, the scared-straight deterrent of real baby care may not scare them straight after all. Besides, you can do anything for one weekend.

So I propose having a number of chip-implanted robot kid models of all different ages. This is sure to reduce the birth rate for the next generation, maybe down to zero. If caring for Robot Baby doesn’t scare Tiffany into keeping her legs crossed or inspire Jason to keep it in his pants, maybe they should take home Preschooler Robot. And for more than just one weekend. We’re talking at least a full semester.

Preschooler Robot poops his Pull-Ups (which the student must pay for!) non-stop during those fun potty-training weeks/months. The student fails if he or she does not sit with Preschooler Robot for five hours a day as it camps out on the Little Tykes throne, producing nothing but a teasing fart every so often.

If the student resorts to running the water from the faucet to induce urination or offering the classic “M&M’s for BM’s” bribe, points will be deducted from his/her grade. Extra demerits for not reading inspiring potty-training books to Preschooler Robot to pass the time, like “Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends Go to the Loo” or “Curious George Takes a Dump.”

Or maybe it will take Seven-Year-Old Robot to force the students into the Christian Science Reading Room and out of the back seat of the AMC Gremlin. (Uh-oh, am I dating myself?) The lucky “parents” must assemble Hot Wheels playsets with unreadable directions while Seven-Year-Old Robot continuously asks how long it will be until it’s ready. Their vocabularies will be reduced to two phrases: ”No, we’re not there yet” and “We’ll see.”

Preteen Robot is a challenge to those students who have survived the other “kids.” Whenever they attempt to engage their Preteen Robots in conversation all they get is dramatic eye rolling, heavy sighs and “what-EVERs.” After a weekend of that any student who doesn’t want to leave Preteen Robot at the mall and drive away gets an "A".

And what’s more, I don’t think one Robot Child is a realistic representation of parenthood. Even if the robot is an “only”, there will be chip-implanted friends of the child to endure. There’s Playdate Disaster Robot, Skanky Prom Date Robot, Rhinovirus Robot and Loud Carpool Pal Robots. If this does the trick and actually reduces teenage pregnancy rates it could lead to some strange brand extensions.

Soon brides and grooms-to-be will be forced to take home Robot Spouse for a trial period. Wonder how many brides will still be blushing once Robot Husband keeps asking the prospective bride to pull his finger? How many engagements will be broken once the groom-to-be discovers Robot Bride insists on buying him dorky novelty boxer shorts?

It’s a good thing to get to know what difficulties you will encounter after a life change. It’s good to know what you’re getting into. Or is it?

What will be the result of this? Reduced teenage pregnancy rates? Great! But what if there’s a horrifying backlash, like an entire future generation of children named “Chuckie?”

I find all this interesting. Ever since my tete-a-tete with the teen I’ve been wondering if I would have children today if I had to take a robot baby home for a weekend when I was her age.

I’m still wondering, but I suspect my kids should thank their lucky stars that my Sex Ed class was held in the back seat of an AMC Gremlin with nary a robot in sight.