On Friday I became a grandma. My oldest daughter became a Mom and Ainsley an aunt. Which by default then made my husband a grandpa. Robot Baby Lucas joined our family this weekend. And it was nostalgic, fun, comical and a little bit crazy bringing a pretend baby home. But it was also a whole lot more than that too.
The road to toy robot baby Lucas began last year when Payton, then 15, told me she wanted to take a parenting course at school. She was giddy over the prospect of having Robot Baby for a weekend in grade 11. Initially I balked. How does a parenting course prepare you for a career path at all? Why not drama, physical education or math? In the end I relented and figured what’s the harm. Payton seems destined to work with children in some capacity. So why not?
For a couple of weeks now we have been trying to squeeze the time in to do this project. We had to all be home to support Payton and we needed to be sure her play was done. Also let’s be honest it didn’t work with our numerous ski trips and ski days this season. So we scheduled it in for this weekend. Here’s how our weekend parenting a robot baby went.
Friday at Noon – Payton Texted me this photo above with the caption: “Hi Grandma.”
Me working at home – “YEAH, NO. Not for many years.”
Payton – texted several laughing emojis.
I posted a Facebook Status saying “So this just happened and then my daughter called me grandma so I shut that down fast.” Apparently that was an invitation to tease me because 20 of my friends then started calling me Grandma, Nanny, Nanners, Mimsy and so forth.
2:15 p.m. Friday I get a phone call from Payton on a gorgeous sunny afternoon.
“Can you come and get me. This carrier is heavy.”
Her: “MOM, I am afraid he might overheat.”
Me: “Pretty sure you said the teacher doesn’t even switch him on until 4 p.m.”
Her: “Right. True. It is really heavy though.”
Me: “That’s the point. Have fun walking.”
Her: “I hate it when you are right.” CLICK.
3:00 roughly – she entered the house with heavy baby carrier and Lucas, my temporary grandson. (Fine whatever)
Me: OVER THE TOP RUNS down the stairs dramatically. “OH LET ME SEE YOUR PRECIOUS BUNDLE!! How was the walk?”
Her: “Mom, please don’t take my picture I am sweating like a fiend.”
Me: (doubled over laughing) “How was the walk?”
Her: “First of all it is so heavy. Second of all, well, I got numerous odd looks from judge-y adults. But there was also a lovely lady who came up and asked to see him so I told her it’s a robot baby. She told me she did the same assignment and went to same high school and married her high school boyfriend and they now have their own family. So that was nice.”
Baby Robot Lesson – babies are heavy and so is all their stuff.
Friday night it was still a novelty and kind of fun. Interestingly Payton still invited her boyfriend over for a few hours and he tolerated this experience well. Over night the robot baby woke up once or twice but settled quickly. Payton got quick at changing diapers. She’s been babysitting for years but has never had a newborn or an infant. Baby Lucas was fitting in well. I was surprised it was going so well actually. Figured it might be harder. Oh for sure Payton was tired but it was manageable.
Saturday morning Payton slept in a bit longer than usual. She was allowed to request a few hours off so she asked for martial arts lessons free from robot baby Lucas. Well, she asked for Noon to 2 pm. She argued a bit with me about going because she said she was tired, but to be honest she needed to make it to her lesson. Lessons started at noon and baby had a mini meltdown at 11:45, so we struggled to get out the door. Excellent lesson for her. YOUR LIFE IS mine. I own you. Mwahahaha. Much like real life with baby. Of course Jim and I kept pointing that out.
Baby Robot Lesson – When you have a baby you get good at changing plans.
Eventually she made it, a bit late and baby switched off at NOON. That meant we took two vehicles to martial arts so Ainsley could make it on time. Surprisingly Ainsley, Payton’s younger sister, was really good helping to carry the carrier and support Payton occasionally. She asked to hold Baby Lucas a few times too. That was nice actually because Ainsley was pretty mad her sleep was going to be jeopardized when she heard of this project. Bonding over a toy robot baby. (I’ll take it.)
Saturday afternoon and evening Payton mostly hung out at home with her baby and she did a great job attending to the diapers and feedings. She fed baby for hours over the weekend. It was surprising, even to me, how long the baby took to feed. Long sessions holding a bottle. Occasionally he seemed to need to just be walked around and rocked a bit until he cooed.
The first and most important lesson was supporting the neck and she did a great job with that in my opinion. But Saturday night was one of the biggest learning experiences for everyone. Baby went to sleep easily enough and so did both my kids. Jim and I had settled downstairs for a glass of wine and were cuing up Netflix when someone upstairs began hollering at the top of their lungs.
I snapped at Jim who essentially was grandpa for the weekend and went upstairs to see what was going on. In hindsight even I was tired and I shouldn’t have snipped at him. Ainsley, who has sensory processing disorder, was on the sofa holding her hands over her ears. Meanwhile Payton was upstairs in her room visibly upset and panicking.
“I tried everything. He won’t settle down. He’s not responding.”
She was in tears and Ainsley was verging on a meltdown in the living room due to the noise.
Sometimes you need family
So we talked about running through all the steps. Is he hungry? Is he wet and needs a diaper change? Does he need to burp or is he sleepy? She had done each and baby was still crying loudly. Eventually I had her hand him to me for a moment or two. I burped Lucas and we swayed a bit the way babies like, but she wanted him back quickly because she was worried about her mark. Payton has Generalized Anxiety Disorder and to be honest has not had a panic attack in almost two years. Worry about getting a good mark coupled with baby robot fussing triggered panic. Finally he settled down. That was his biggest, loudest, episode all weekend.
“I’m a bad Mom. I never want to be a parent,” she blurted.
Robot Baby Lesson – Babies and Children can Fray Your Last Nerve. Take Care of You.
We had a talk about anxiety and babies and how real live babies have strong instincts and will feed off your discomfort or nerves or fear. I used to say babies are like dogs that way – they can smell fear. Later we talked calmly about how important it will be one day for her to do all of her anxiety work as a new parent. To make sure she is using self care and getting proper sleep and doing deep breathing and even doing positive self talk. Hopefully both my girls have a lot of years left before this comes to be. But this exercise reminded me and them too that they should have family close by to pitch in and support them when they start their own families.
Sleep When Baby Sleeps
Over the weekend, my teen learned to sleep when baby sleeps. LOL. I remember those days. But should I get up and clean or, in her case, do homework? Well, she did squeeze homework in and she truly had to learn to work without headphones on all the way so she could hear the baby. On Sunday I weighed in and advised that when she has a real baby one day the baby stage is very brief so sleep is more important and cleaning can wait. Hope she remembers that and also hope she lives nearby so I can help.
Sunday afternoon my daughter Ainsley had a riding competition at Sari and we all went to see her. So, that meant that Baby Lucas got a trip to the riding centre. Oh yeah, Payton also took the car seat very seriously and made sure baby was strapped in properly each time. Very good to practice that. When we drove we discussed how to safely pull over in a parking lot and tend to baby’s needs. Husband couldn’t resist chiming in with: “OH BOY, yes we had more than a few of those trips.” TRUTH.
So many lessons learned before my daughter returned Baby Lucas to school this morning. In the span of a weekend my teen became a zombie mom, and my other daughter became an aunt. They interacted better than they have in months, for the most part.
There are a zillion projects over the course of a teen’s high school years. Some are strictly academic exercises and really don’t add much in the way of real life street smarts. When the rubber hits the road of course a toy baby doll is not the same as a real baby. BUT, I have to say of all the projects so far this one probably had the most merit.
Oh and then there were the spontaneous questions that came up. My girl can be a deep thinker and she’s sensitive. On Saturday she asked me: “Would you kick me out if I got pregnant as a teenager?” That was an excellent opportunity for me to be able to say “No. There’s pretty much nothing you could do that would ever make me want to kick you out. I might be disappointed in choices, but you are my daughter and I love you.” END of Story. But not the end of the conversation.
Well, actually I told my younger daughter what Payton had asked and I let her know that response also goes for her. That was one of the best conversations we have had in weeks.
Of course then she tested me: “What if I vaped?”
“I’d be mad and I’d really wonder where you got the money to do that, but I wouldn’t kick you out.”
“What if I smoked marijuana?”
“Again I might be disappointed and upset, but I wouldn’t kick you out.” And on and ON it went. Won’t bore you with the details but those of you who know my youngest know she can talk a lot sometimes.
A Final Word or Two about Lucas
Every parent knows parenting is the hardest job you will ever do. This weekend my daughter got a glimpse of that. Pretty sure that was valuable in reminding her it’s important to be a bit older before having a baby. Just found out the school calls this Baby Think It Over project. Well, completely appropriate in my books.
Bye Baby Lucas! Hope my daughter got an A on this one. She still has to create a baby book for Lucas and hand that in for grading. But, even more important than the grade is the amount we all learned together this weekend. FYI this baby is from Reality Works and it is called Real Care infant simulator.