Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Sibling Class

My wife and I decided to sign our children up for one of the big-sibling classes offered by the local hospital. For a nominal fee, you and your children could attend a two-hour session designed to make everyone more comfortable with the impending addition to the family. The children would be given a tour of the nursery area and watch an informative video about how the dynamics of their home life could change.

So, on the appointed Saturday, we all arrived at the conference room. I checked in with the session leader and paid her the $20 for our participation. Each expectant mother in the class wore the official uniform of the final trimester (black maternity shirt and jeans) and all were eagerly awaiting the start of the class.

Slightly after the designated start time, a woman came in with her two daughters and asked the session leader what time she should “be back to pick them up.” Somewhat taken aback at the question, the facilitator responded that the parents actually need to stay with the children for the two hours. Unfazed, the mother replied that she would be “in and out” but should still be around the hospital. The facilitator gently indicated again that it was not a drop-off class. I would be more judgmental, but the truth is that her unsupervised children were much less disruptive than mine.

Eventually we began with the tour. Everyone was led into one of the labor and delivery rooms and given a brief explanation of the apparatus. The session leader kept alluding to the children visiting their mommy during this time. This prompted my wife to lean over and inform me that she felt little need to have our other children in the room with her once stirrups became involved.

We were then led back to the classroom where we all watched a pirate-themed video about fetal development. The video was hosted by a buccaneer who had been marooned on an island with only a poorly-constructed puppet named “Carrots” for companionship. At frequent intervals during the fetus animation, he would pop-up to interject commentary. For instance, when the video was explaining the umbilical cord, his face appeared on screen and he exclaimed, “Arggghh! That’s what I call room service matey!”

It was after this section of the video that the couple seated across from us began explaining to their son about the umbilical cord’s function. The father explained that when mommy was uncomfortable, it was because “nugget is yanking on his dinner bell to get more baby juice” from her. I could tell by the nurse’s face that she was torn between respecting this couple’s right to raise their children and the guilt she would feel by allowing a 5 year-old continue to believe that mommy’s womb functioned like the pull-bell on Downton Abbey. 

Next, the children were invited to choose a baby-doll from the box so that they could practice the proper handling of their new sibling. My daughter selected a cute little girl and handled her with expert care. She even made sure that the head and neck were properly supported in the crook of her elbow. My son, on the other hand, returned from the box with what I can only assume was the doll utilized by night-shift employees to frighten co-workers into soiling their scrubs. Only one of its eyes functioned and its limbs were contorted at unnatural angles.


Nevertheless, while the other children went about properly swaddling their newborn, my son was treating his as if it owed him money. Despite my protestations, he would violently shake the doll and then hang it upside down. It was around this time that my daughter got her doll swaddled on the table but became enraged when it would not open its eyes in response to her vocal commands. She started yelling, “WAKE UP! WAKE UP!” in the doll’s face like she was treating an overdose victim.  

Finally, it was time for each of the kids to design a bib to be given to their new sibling. White fabric bibs and paint markers were distributed to all of the children. After several minutes, some of the children began sharing with everyone what they drew. One little boy drew a picture of his new expanded family holding hands. Another little girl was making a rainbow because she loved them and was sure that her new sibling would too. My son drew an elongated brown cylinder on his bib and announced that it was “poo-poo.” Unsure how to respond to the turd-bib, the facilitator smiled politely and probably began questioning how badly she really needed the extra income from this class.

Ready to get our complimentary t-shirts and make an exit, my wife and I were relieved when the teacher began distributing the certificates on the opposite side of the room. This quickly ground to a halt when the second family she came to insisted that they had been informed the class was free. The nurse responded that there was always a fee associated with the class to which they responded that they “had seen something on the Internet” about it being free. This went back and forth several times until the teacher agreed that if they could find some official documentation on the website to back this up she would let it slide.

The couple waved their phones around and complained that they can’t because they were unable to get cell service. A discussion about the availability of WiFi ensued and the facilitator told them that she would come back to them. When she gets to the next couple, they sheepishly explained that the grandparents had signed up for the course and thought that it was free as well. Unwilling to see how her conversation with the next couple would end, my wife and I decided to abandon ship and forgo the complimentary t-shirt.


She noticed us leaving and kindly wanted to give us the shirts (since it appeared that we were the only people who had paid) and thanked us. I cannot speak to what happened after we left, but in my mind she locked the doors, turned the pirate video back on and informed everyone that if she did not see some dead presidents soon, “Carrots” was going in beak-first.