By Ann Tatko-Peterson
Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 at 10:30 pm in Baby Borrowers.
“Baby Borrowers,” reality TV’s lesson in parenthood for five teen couples, has me torn. The five teenage couples on the show are contemplating parenthood, so the TV experiment has set them up in houses where they will spend a few days raising babies, toddlers, pre-teens, teens and elderly “parents.” With statistics showing less than half of teen parents stay together and even fewer manage to stay off welfare, I came into the new series rooting for temporary parenthood to knock some sense into these teens. Yet, one episode in and I find myself secretly rooting for a few of them. But not all. Definitely not all of them.
Fact is, almost every teen on the show needs a swift reality check. The immaturity level has spiked clear off the chart. The only exception, perhaps, is Sean. He agreed to the experiment to show his girlfriend, Kelsey, that she’s not ready to be a parent. Smart, except at times he seemed a little too bent on her failing and passing off “parenthood” with a few jokes (more on that in a minute). Not so smart are Kelly and her boyfriend, Austin. Why does she think she’s ready for parenthood? “Because I love kids,” she told the audience. Oh sweetie, love alone isn’t going to get you through sleepless nights, dirty diapers, puking kids and the harsh reality of what it costs — financially, physically and emotionally — to raise a child. And ironically enough, she couldn’t even get through one day of “pregnancy.”
That was surprise one: a box bearing a pregnancy belly that the moms-to-be were supposed to wear until the babies arrived two days later. Austin laughed when Kelly put hers on. She immediately threw a temper tantrum saying she felt fat and ugly. The pregnancy belly was too heavy. She refused to wear it and locked herself in the bathroom. Austin ended up going to a parenting class by himself, and upon returning home, Kelly lashed out with a so teen-like “Don’t touch me.” How exactly does Kelly plan to have a baby of her own? Via a stork.
Kelly was bad, but at least she stepped up when the baby arrived. Alicea, on the other hand, is the one I really wanted to smack. She was struggling with a 7-month-old, teething Karson. The child wouldn’t eat. She dropped an f-bomb and then declared, “Fine, then starve.” Karson’s real mom, watching via a video camera, had heard enough. She marched over and gave Alicea a much-deserved verbal lashing. You can’t just walk away from your child, she told her. It’s not about you, it’s about your baby. But Alicea still didn’t get it. Instead, she got her back up and refused to have anything to do with the baby because of his real mom. But wait, when she appointed boyfriend Cory as the stay-at-home parent and went off to work, she was complaining up a storm again. This time because she was getting splinters and blisters at the lumber yard. Clearly, she’s not ready for the real world. Heck, I wouldn’t even leave my dogs with her.
Back to Sean, he and Kelsey were way out of their league with 6-month-old Etta. They never changed her clothes or diaper, hadn’t given her a bath and couldn’t figure out why she was crying at bedtime. Finally Sean quipped, “Oh put IT in the crib and let her cry.” My 11-year-old stepdaughter, Dana, was appalled: “Did he call her it?” Sure enough, here comes Etta’s mom marching across the street, pounding on the door and giving Sean a reminder that it is a child and joking will not replace responsibile action.
In the early running, Sasha and Jordan appear to work well together and did quite well (so far) with 11-month-old Shay. Daton and Morgan, however, looked like teenagers playing house. Next to Alicea and Cody, I’d lay odds that this couple doesn’t survive this experiment intact. They even admitted that a fight before the show began taping almost broke them up. They’re using the experience as a test for their relationship. Better that than having an actual child to try to mend what is tearing them apart. But, I’ll give them a little credit. When baby Miley’s dad came over to tell the duo to settle down and talk to the baby in softer tones, at least they listened. It’s a start, any way.