This post is by TheNotMom team writer Laura LaVoie:
When I was in high school, I took a “parenting” class. It was an easy elective and fell under the Health section of the curriculum, so it knocked out a requirement. I honestly don’t remember much about the class at all – except for one thing: The Flour Babies.
This concept was, and I believe still is, implemented in many schools across the country. Sometimes it takes the form of an Egg Baby where you protect your egg as you would your very own child. I never got to do this, unfortunately. I would make a great egg mom. Other schools, like mine, implement the traditional flour baby an un-traditional way.
In our school we were given an option: Rather than carrying around a sack of flour, we could use a baby doll. Cabbage Patch Kids were the doll of choice at the time. It was the early 90s and each of us owned at least one. For extra credit we could weigh the babies down using rolls of coins. This apparently made the experience more realistic. The night before the project began, my mom and I taped 4 pounds of pennies to the preemie Cabbage Patch Kid that I got when I was 7. Four pounds is a lot of pennies.
The project lasted a week. We had to carry our babies around with us at school all day. We had to care for them at home and take them with us anywhere we went that week. The baby couldn’t go unsupervised. We also needed to feed them at designated intervals throughout the day. I don’t remember at all how the teacher kept us honest about that. Our teachers and our parents needed to sign reports each day to let our parenting teacher know how we did.
By day 2, I hated my flour baby.
My adorable little boy, who I named Erik Daniel because I thought it sounded pretty, was heavy and making me miserable. I wanted to abandon him. Sometimes I even thought I might resort to violence. The feelings I had toward a doll with pennies taped to it were unnatural and terrifying. I knew at that moment that I was probably not cut out for motherhood. If I couldn’t even handle carting a Cabbage Patch Kid with me everywhere I went for a week what business did I have with a real baby?
I was only 15 but I knew that kids would not be part of my future.
I believe this parenting class was an extremely valuable experience in my teenage years. I didn’t really learn about how to care for a child, but I did learn a lot about myself. I’m sure other classmates had very different feelings toward their flour babies and have even gone on to be wonderful and productive parents. Thankfully, because of Facebook, I know this to be true.
By the way, at my house we often joke that if we did have a child, we would name him “Beowulf Odysseus.” That is how we tell whether or not people take us seriously.