In Candice Hancock’s Human Relations class at Hollis Brookline High School, one of the tasks she assigns her students is taking home a programmed baby doll for twenty-four hours. The doll is created to cry at random intervals, only to be quieted by its mother selecting the right key to put into its back. The baby is supposed to be an “eye opener” that helps teenagers learn how hard it is to take care of a baby while providing for oneself at the same time.
Hancock wanted to show her students how hard it would be to function on their own while providing for a baby. The project shows all of the products, services, and time babies need and how dependent they are on their guardians to take care of them. She always says the same thing to her students the day after they take home their babies: “Exhaustion, annoyance, irritation, and a realization.”
Marie Borkowski ‘19 decided to challenge herself and take home the “drug induced” baby doll that is designed to be extra challenging, more needy, and to cry even louder than the regular babies. The keys given to stick in the baby doll’s back to stop it from crying were designed to only work at random times. She said she wanted to take home the challenging baby because she loves babies. “I regretted it,” Borkowski said. “It was terrible. I was very, very tired and irritable and it made me not want a baby.”
Kia Archambault ‘17 debated on whether she wanted take home the baby or take the option to opt out by writing an essay instead. She chose the baby, but did not enjoy taking care of it. “I didn’t like that it cried and the keys wouldn’t stop it. It made me realize that babies are no fun and would make me tired,” she said.
Livy Monbleau ‘18 decided to write the essay rather than taking the baby home. She just wanted to get the assignment over with. “I wanted a full night’s sleep, and everyone who came back the next day after taking the baby home seemed so exhausted,” she explained.
The baby assignment definitely had the intended effect on students: it helped them realize that having a baby impacts the entire life of the parent.