Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | March 25, 2019

Project Runway – the baby project

We just finished the Baby Project. This is the stupid project sophomores at our high school have to do, where they carry a doll around for a week at school (and sometimes leave it in their locker overnight and on the weekends), to simulate what it’s like to care for a baby. You have to make sure to bring it with you, as the teachers warn there are sometimes baby kidnappings at school. Yeah.

As I’m sure you can tell, Zack is now a baby pro. He’s nursing the baby through the sling.

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Dori hated the project too. After Dori had to drive Zack around to his activities one weekend last year, she proclaimed “this is so much more effective than the baby project. Every teen should have to drive their brother around all weekend – then they’ll never have sex.” She then thanked me profusely for all I do as her mom, and proclaimed that being a mom must suck.

The baby project is full of requirements that change depending on the teacher. Zack’s teacher required the kids to carry a baby that weighed at least 5 pounds, or they lost points. That’s because the average baby is 5-6 pounds at birth. Obviously Zack, at 9 pounds 9 ounces, wasn’t average. If the baby is not 5 pounds, you can tape a bag of pennies to the doll – because that’s normal, right? They do that to premies? Or as some  parents suggested on our community Facebook page, you can drill a hole through the baby’s back and fill the baby with beans or rice (not cooked). You’re not allowed to put a bag of weights in the carrier. Noooooo. It has to be on the baby.

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Here’s the CREATIVITY rubric. You can see the baby gets extra points for wearing a fricking headband. A HEADBAND. Because accessories matter. For the record, Dori never wore a headband, even though she was hairless for two years. Because I hate baby headbands. 3 points off for me! Bad mom!

You have to have a proper carrier. Somehow this decorative basket is fine, even though the baby’s head isn’t supported. But when Dori put her baby in a front pack (a kid’s REI backpack) she got points off because it’s not a proper carrier.

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You also have to dress it in appropriate clothes for the season. Dori missed points because her baby didn’t have a sweater on in spring, and the teacher also harassed her because the baby was actually a toddler (which might explain the roller skates she wore instead of shoes). When Dori said she borrowed the doll (many parents go out and actually purchase them new), the teacher said “we have a lot of baby dolls here you could have used.” Of course this was said toward the end of the project. Zack was told the teacher had dolls, but she didn’t want the kids using them – she wanted them to get their own. WTF?

Zack borrowed a doll from a friend who still had them in the house. The baby came with a cloth torso (see shopping bag sling above) and I told him he’d have to figure out clothes himself – I wasn’t buying them. He came downstairs with this.

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My son needs to go on Project Runway. Why? He fashioned the clothing out of SOCKS and the shoes are made of old gloves. Seriously! He even gave it a decoration (that’s a sun on the shirt. That hat is a sock. And he added the stripes with marker.

By the way, this baby is Oliver John Simpson. Get it? He named his baby OJ Simpson. Given the basket, I named the baby Moses.

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The kids are told the baby has to be with them at all times because the baby can only bond with themthey are the ones the baby needs. That’s what the instructions say. Dori said that shames working parents.

The kids have to wake up 5 times one night, to journal online on a Google form about the how and why the baby woke up, and what they had to do. That meant Zack had to set his alarm 5 times, wake up 5 times, log something in 5 times. And then sleep in the next day til noon – like all new parents get to do. And then he gets to school on Monday, and he’s told that the form only captured 3 wake-ups, so he gets 60% credit. He can make it up by waking up 5 times on a school night. Then he can get 100%. But he can’t wake up 2 more times to get the additional credit. A bunch of kids in the class apparently had the same problem – they woke up and did the work and it didn’t register.

There is one good thing this baby project brought out in my son: his ire. He created a Google survey which I posted on the local Facebook page for parents to take, to see how useful they thought the baby project was. He’s going to compile the responses and seek out the proper channels at school to present his findings (spoiler alert: more than half the parents whose kids went through this project feel it’s useless and shouldn’t be required) and to argue that this project should not be required.

So the good news is that he’ll learn some presentation skills, some statistics skills, and some self-advocating skills. He’ll need those as a parent – especially when advocating for his kids at school someday.


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