Also if you abuse the baby, or forget for even a moment to support his head, or drop it down the stairs by accident as one of my son's friends did to his baby, the abuse is registered on the computer chip inside. It's a graded project. The teens in charge of the baby wear a hospital type bracelet they have to swipe across the doll's sensor -- so they are the only ones who can, for that one night, do the work of caring for the baby.
My husband and I slept through all the middle-of-the-night fussing, diaper changes, and crying. We loved the whole experience. Not just because our grandson, Alexander Hamilton Vail Elkind, is obviously the smartest, cutest, best-behaved, most wonderful robotbaby ever.
Not even just because I am loving imagining the interesting looks my son got on the M4 bus rides across town from school yesterday and back this morning, as people pretended not to look at or react to the teenage boy with his baby -- and then, once they secretly peered beneath the baby's little Yankees cap and saw the truth, had to puzzle over the teenage boy with the doll...
Not just for the learning experience and reminder/warning of a possible consequence of certain behaviors... or the early bonding with us over all-nighters with baby... or the fact that the boys and the girls in his school have the identical assignment...
But also I guess for the reminder that the future is charging fast at us. The heartbeat of time between my son's being cradled in my arms and becoming a man is -- right now. Someday, someday soon, the baby he'll hold in his arms (stressed and psyched and full of wonder) will be real and breathing, pumping blood of my blood and not to be returned to room 217 by 8AM but here to stay.
I hardly have time to catch my breath.
It catches in my throat.
It's only a heartbreakingly short heartbeat of time before I turn into Polonius, doddering after my sweet earnest little boy who before my eyes is turning into one of the best men I have ever known, spouting advice he's heard or not heard a thousand times before.
Go, I want to whisper to him. Spread your wings and take to the sky as I warned myself in your nightly lullabies you someday would. Fly high. It is a glorious thing to be your mom and watch you grow up. Go and discover. Try. Fail. Survive and learn. Become.
But not quite yet, baby mine.
My arms will never lose the muscle memory of you cradled warm within them, even when someday in the future you hold your own baby in yours.