"Yo, they gave me my flower-baby today," she offered up, 100% unsolicited.
"Your what?" I never know what she's talking about.
"My flower-baby. You know, a flower-baby. They make you take care of it so you know how to take care of a real baby. See, here's a picture."
She thrust her phone in my face. There was a picture of a sack of Gold Medal flour, dressed in infant clothes, with a photo of a baby taped to it.
"Oh, a flour-baby. OK. I see," I said, rapidly losing interest.
"Yo, they make us do craaaaazy stuff. And we have to take real care of it, too. If you leave it in your locker? That's neglection. If you break it? That's death."
I interjected a few uh-huhs and mmm-hmms in the appropriate places. She kept talking.
"Yoooo, but some teachers, they're cool, right? If your baby has death, you get to write an obituary and you still pass. But some are straight up bad, man, because if your baby gets death and you write the obituary, you still fail. That's not right, right? They shouldn't be able to fail you like that for breaking your baby."
I considered pointing out that the assignment was probably to not break her baby. Instead, I asked her where her baby was at that moment. She explained that she left it with a friend since she didn't want to bring it to work. I considered pointing out that her job is to babysit an actual child, but figured she wouldn't make the connection.
"Yo, so, like, maybe I'll bring it tomorrow. But, like, that thing is legit heavy, so I'm all like whoa." She shook her arms for dramatic effect.
I decided that was as good a time as any to get back to work and let her get to taking care of my son.
The next day, she bolted through my front door, five minutes late of course, with Flour-Baby in arms. She complained a bit about how hard it was to take care of a fake child. She figured I didn't really understand since I didn't have to do this assignment in high school. I nodded in sarcastic agreement. She didn't get it.
Once her shift was over, she went home. It wasn't until I was serving my son dinner that I noticed someone looking at me. It was Flour-Baby, sitting in Nathan's chair in my living room.
I had half a mind to call her teacher to report this... neglection.
Poor, poor neglected Flour-Baby.
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Edited to add: This post won crowd favorite AND the jury prize this week. Thank you everyone who enjoyed and voted!