“Did you know that charging your phone for just 15 minutes will probably help if it is not turning on?” — Recording that plays while on hold for Verizon Tech Support
As soon-to-be first time parents, we were clueless when it came to caring for infants. Or so we thought.
An Infant CPR course was located, and she signed the two of us up. Upon attending, the immediate “this class is not for us” realization hit.
Much fun is poked at warning labels such as “Do not use toaster while in the shower” or “Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery” on dog medicine, but the sad truth is: stupidity seems to be the driving force in America. In an age of coddling to the dumbest common denominator, the Infant CPR course we attended was 20 minutes of useful information wrapped in a two-hour package. At best, the course was designed for low-intelligence teenagers popping out kids well before their ability to care for them; at worst, it is proof positive we have stopped assuming responsibility for our actions, and both Wall-E and Idiocracy are more documentary than escapist satire.
Talking points included:
- Don’t shake your baby.
- Really, don’t shake your baby.
- Not kidding here, shaking is bad.
- You know what? We’re just going to go ahead and call the police, as you are obviously unfit baby shakers.
The baby-shaking angle was so important to them, they devised methods of subterfuge to help new parents make sure their babysitter wasn’t an accidental murderer.
“When interviewing potential care-givers, do not ask, ‘Will you shake my baby?’ because people will always say ‘no.’ You have to trick them. Come at the question sideways to see how they respond situationally, such as, ‘Say my baby is crying and won’t stop; how will you react?’”
Oooh, tricky! I bet that gets “I’m gonna shake the hell outta the thing until it shuts up!” from bad babysitters every time.
Bravo, instructor. Bravo.
Beyond baby shaking, the idea danger lurked in every corner of the world was emphasized repeatedly.
Do you have special, foam corners on every edge of your furniture? Do you have special, foam corners for your doors, so they don’t slam on little hands? Have you put locks on the oven door, so your child doesn’t crawl in it?
(This last one made me raise my hand and ask, “But what if the kid is playing hide and seek?” I received a confused stare from the instructor—and an elbow to the ribs from my wife—in response.)
An inflatable cover for the bathtub spigot was singled out for high praise; it was a cushion, and a heat sensor. The opposite of the “blue mountains” on a cold Coors can, this one glowed red when warm. Just in case a parent had no clue what transference is, the concept was that hot water pouring through metal would cause the metal to warm. Just in case the parent didn’t feel like checking the temperature of the water before dropping a baby in and heading out to the porch for a smoke.
Heat was the secondary function of the device, however. First and foremost was preventive measures regarding head-bonking: you didn’t want your wee one to knock their noggin on anything, would you? This was too much for my wife, who raised her hand and spoke her mind clearly; “You know, when I was big enough to use the tub, I hit my head on the faucet once. Once. And then I learned not to do it again.”
The idea people can learn through trial and error was her point, and the thought we needed to pad everything in the house seemed absurd to her. My wife received her very own confused stare response from our instructor this time; apparently absurd questions weren’t common in this class.
Continuing: it wasn’t just the simplicity of the advice; the over-reaching nature of it was irksome. Every single item in the world was a murderous danger waiting to bestow evil upon a baby.
“Make sure garage door has sensors that allow it to open if something is under it!”
(But how will baby play Indiana Jones?)
“Never leave your baby alone in a car on a hot day!”
(Um, thanks, Einstein?)
“Keep your baby out of the sun!”
(Yeah, I’ve seen John McCain, got it.)
The repeated thought I had (in a very sarcastic way) was: “My God, how did my generation ever survive? Our parents didn’t have these nifty classes explaining parenting to them.” Before long, the Mrs. was playing Bejeweled Blitz on her phone, and I was scrolling through my Facebook on mine.
To be fair, both the infant CPR and infant choking instructions were invaluable. The problem is, as said, the course creators took what should have been a 20-minute situation and extended it to two hours. Even worse than that, when it came to imparting the important information to us, the instructor stopped speaking, and pressed a button on her computer. No longer lecturing, she showed a video, leaving my wife and me to stare at one another, stunned: you mean we could have stayed home and done this using YouTube?
During the CPR portion, the phrase “push hard and fast” was repeated so often it was as if we were watching an instructional video on how to make a baby, not give one CPR. Also during the video, a snare drumbeat was played in order to time compressions. The doll made a wheezing exhalation noise when pressed, and did so at a tone that was similar to the snare. Discovering that, I added a polyrhythm to the beat, technically administering the CPR incorrectly, but which filled the room with a nice Brazilian samba. Thankfully, my wife wasn’t mad at me for my stupidity; she laughed as others stared disapprovingly.
(Her note: “I didn’t just laugh, I was crying and almost barfed I was laughing so hard.”)
The silliest portion of the video regarded instructions on how to call 911.
- Step one: pick up phone
- Step two: dial 911
- Step three: panic, and run in circles while sobbing
OK, the last part is a lie, but also very amusing; the video-actress called out in the most monotone, non-panicked voice, “Help. I need help. Baby? Baby? Please respond.”
Now, I can joke around, but if something is going wrong with my baby? Chances are my pulse will be elevated to unheard of levels and I’ll be doing all I can to keep it together.
So, maybe my wife and I weren’t the target audience for this class.
Maybe the white, tattooed-guy playing African Tribal Chief with his earlobes, or the Crunchy Granola couple who said, “We don’t believe in air conditioning”—yeah, or showering, shaving, or deodorant—maybe they got something from the course.
Because if they didn’t?
God help the future of our nation.
Photo: Getty Images