Thursday, November 24, 2016

Bringing Up Baby

This week, my daughter brought home a surprisingly lifelike doll for her health class "baby project." For 24 hours, she responded to its every cry, by "feeding it," changing its pretend diaper, burping it, or, if all else failed, simply rocking it until that crying stopped. It was uncannily like my first days of parenthood--going from not quite knowing if I was doing well to figuring things out to actually feeling fairly competent, all in a haze of sleep deprivation. I'll admit, it was entertaining for me to watch, and it brought back memories--so much so, that I was telling all sorts of stories that I had long forgotten.

When the day and night were done, she returned the "baby" to school for the next person's turn, hopeful that she had gotten a good grade on the project (her response times and actions were recorded on some kind of electronic thingy inside the doll). It seemed to me she was doing pretty well, but I guess we'll see.

And I guess that's kind of what real parenthood is like from babyhood on--you do what you can, figuring things out as you go, and then you wait to see how you've done. There may be times when you believe the whole endeavor is going well, and times when you don't think that your tired arms and tired eyes and tired everything can take it. But you muddle through, and hope for the best.

The "baby project" was, I'm sure, designed to give the kids enough knowledge to think hard about finding themselves facing parenthood before they were ready. But, from where I stand, it also taught them a little about facing parenthood, or life, at any point. You do the best you can with what you know. You summon whatever stamina you can to get through whatever challenges you can. And then you just step back, and hope it all turns out okay.

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