Hi, meet Cody. The hard, plastic, computerised baby that threw me back into a life long past and taught me a few things about myself, Cyber Babies and Real Life.
So, a few months ago, our youngest daughter, who turns 15 this week, mooted the idea of bringing a Cyber Baby home.
The school she attends, in what I can only assume is a desperate attempt at preventing teenage pregnancies, has Cyber Babies. These computerised dolls are intended to show ‘girls’ what living with a newborn baby is like.
In today’s modern, blended family, society, it really is a wonder that they see this as a valid exercise – my point being, a larger number of children than ever before, are currently brought up with a variety of siblings, be they whole, half or step, that vary in age from Daddy’s new baby, to Mummy’s eldest child already ripe to yield their own offspring.
I digress. Our daughter was very, very keen about bringing home a Cyber Baby and taking full responsibility for it. A point which was fully emphasised by her elder sister, who told her, and I quote, “You’re not sleeping in our room with a noisy baby, you can sleep downstairs!”
As parents we agreed and triple signed a form (basically signing the value of our house away, should Cyber Baby sustain damage whilst in our home!), agreeing to allow our daughter to bring little bubba home.
Daughter was excited about matching accessories, blanket and car seat for baby and cheerfully counted down the days until Cody (Cyber Babie’s name?) came home.
Cody was sent home, midweek and would be ‘activated’ at 6pm on the Friday evening. Super. Lovely.
On the very next day (Thursday) daughter had very high temperature and came down with a really grotty cold and cough. I prayed hard she would be fine by Friday!
You see, at this point daughter was still blissfully looking forward to Cody’s activation and determined to look after him, without help.
Friday came and Cyber Baby activated. Daughter was still very unwell but thrilled (she had missed 2 days at school, not something she ever does lightly, so when I say she was poorly I mean, that poorly!).
Nobody was allowed near Cody, except for a quick hold and to her credit our daughter took care of him for the entire first night.
Taking care of Cody involved wearing a wrist band that was then swiped across his tummy the moment he cried (left crying for more than 2 minutes and you would be penalised for neglect!). Then he would need either feeding with a bottle, winding or changing. At all other times he slept. Whilst sleeping he made breathing sounds.
Cyber Baby was not woken by loud noises, nor was he comforted by human contact. He was a robot baby!!!
“Mummy, I feel so ill and I am so tired”. My poor real life baby looked exhausted. My heart broke.
Immediately I took Cyber Baby from her, gave her some medicine and tucked her into bed. She fell asleep almost instantly.
Her elder sister turned out not to have a heart of stone and took Cody from me and looked after him for the rest of the day whilst her mum and sister rested. She even took her mattress downstairs, determined to look after Cyber Baby during the night so her sister could rest.
Then I heard it cry. And it didn’t stop. The crying tore at my heart. I tried to ignore the crying as I found myself walking downstairs to find our eldest daughter doing everything she could to shut the thing up!
I immediately took control, said to our eldest to tuck down, I would settle the baby and look after him for a bit so she could sleep.
Now here’s something you should know, although we have 3 beautiful children, I don’t like babies, or even toddlers really. I have loved and cared for my own with a passion and dedication I didn’t know I possessed. I loved and cherished my sisters children in the same way. But if I am out and a baby is crying 99% of the time it irritates me and I have no desire, whatsoever to calm or soothe the screaming baby/toddler. It’s just how I am.
Except for Cody. Even though I slept with him cuddled on my shoulder, which still bare the bruises from rocking, to burp him. I did care. I cared because he was important to my daughter. When he cried, my heart tugged. I couldn’t ignore a plastic, robot doll when it cried, because that was what it had been programmed to do.
So that night I cared for Cody like he was a real baby. It was hard because physical contact wouldn’t settle him in the way it did my own babies, yet he was still cuddled. He barely whimpered and I’d swiped the thing across his tummy and held a bottle to his mouth. Also alien to me as I breast feed all 3 of our babies.
I looked after him Saturday and Sunday night, as well as helping out through the day on Sunday. I didn’t enjoy the experience, but I didn’t hate it either. Because I was doing it for my daughter and that was enough for me.
Cody deactivated at 6am on Monday morning. I felt relief that our daughter didn’t have the pressure of looking after a Cyber Baby anymore.
He is gone and upon her return from school later that day I reminded our daughter of a saying that many African villages have “It takes a village to raise a child”.
I reassured our beautiful girl that when the time comes, it will be as a family that we help to raise our children’s, children.
I read a blog recently about how to ensure you get a good following on your blog, only positive, happy posts would grab readers attention. That leaving ‘space’ was key to not overwhelming your reader.
I would just like to say, I think that’s a load of rubbish. In other posts where I’ve mentioned about pain, Real Life, migraines, I’ve always, always had more comments, as people find they can identify with what I’ve written. I have too much respect for you, my readers, to write a load of happy, crappy flannel, complete with Instagram perfect, white, stylised photos to match.
The picture of Cody was taken at 6am after he had deactivated on the Monday morning of what had been a hellsh, but eye opening weekend. That is Real Life, well the Cyber Baby wasn’t alive but the experience was very real.
If I can’t be honest and share the good with the bad on this, my blog, then I’m not being real. For those of you that have got this far and realise you prefer the shiny, perfect blogs, that’s your choice. To all the rest of you lovely, wonderful readers and honest fellow bloggers, thank you for allowing me to be me, supporting me and sharing in the love that is Real Life. I really appreciate each and every one of you.