9th graders learn about parenting | RecordCourier.com

9th graders learn about parenting

Joyce Hollister

Two Carson Valley Middle School 9th grade students dropped by The Record-Courier with their “babies” for a photo last week. They giggled and laughed, showing off the cute plastic computerized dolls in their infant seats.

The next day, the girls returned to the office – still giggling and laughing – but their view of being in total charge of small babies had changed.

“I didn’t like it,” Samantha Flower said. “It cried at night. It was OK during the day, but during the night it still kept crying.”

The “baby” woke her up three times out of a dead sleep.

For April Rodarte, however, the good news was that her baby was “an easy baby.” It didn’t cry all night.

The bad news was, however, that she was given a “better” baby to take back home the next day – one whose batteries were operating properly.

Even so, the one time she was awakened by her first baby was enough.

“I was, like, excited to get it,” April said, “until it woke me up. Then I wished I never had it.”

The baby project is offered in health classes at the 9th grade level in Douglas County. At CVMS, the 9th grade health classes taught by Karen Green use the “babies.”

The dolls were purchased at a cost of $250 each, half by the school district and half by the Family Support Council.

Every 9th grade student may take a doll home with parent permission, and nearly all do. Students at first say they want to have them for three nights, Green said, but usually give up after one.

Other similar projects are designed to acquaint students with the difficulties of being responsible for a child 24 hours a day – from taking care of an egg to watching over a potato for several days.

The baby dolls, however, take these programs a step further. The dolls are programmed to cry about every 90 minutes – and there is no way to stop them except by holding them for about 20 minutes and turning a key in the back of the doll.

If the dolls are turned upside down or abused, it is recorded inside the body.

Samantha and April reflected that they learned something.

“It’s not what I expected,” April said. “It’s harder work than anything else. It teaches us how hard it is to be a parent.”

Samantha added, “Even though you only have it for one night, you can imagine about having it every night.”

They agreed that the project showed them the decision to become a parent required a commitment they weren’t yet ready to take on.

Both girls also said the experience made them appreciate their own mothers more.