Parents used to be satisfied with sonogram images of their child developing in the womb, even though, for all we knew, we were actually watching video footage of a school of mackerel on a depth finder.
“And if you look closely, you can see your baby … right … about … whoops! It’s gone. Something must’ve scared it.”
The doctor would then print copies of these images, which we carried in our wallets to share with family, friends, and anyone unfortunate enough to make brief eye contact. At the end of nine months, the only real expectation any of us had for our child was that they come out headfirst. Laughably, we actually felt it was enough for them to grow from a microscopic egg into a full-fledged human child within nine months.
Those babies, of course, were total slackers.
Thankfully, today’s fetuses are on the fast track to success with the help of new “Prenatal Education” Systems. These products are specifically designed to “maximize” a child’s time in the womb — time which, until now, was frittered away on eating, growing, and using Mom’s bladder for step aerobics. The philosophy behind this new trend is best summed up by the makers of the BabyPlus prenatal educational system, whose official marketing slogan is:
You’re never too young to learn.
In fact, you don’t even have to be born.
As a parent who learned of this opportunity much too late, I say why even TAKE THE RISK of stunting your child’s intellectual capacity by wasting valuable time and waiting until you’re actually pregnant? I suggest you start reading a thesaurus to your ovaries right now. Think of the pride you’ll feel when your child emerges from the womb and, with full command of the English language, announces to everyone:
Slap my behind and I’ll sue you.
The above scenario may be an exaggeration. But it illustrates an important point, which is that our entire judicial system could eventually collapse under the weight of frivolous lawsuits brought on by talking babies.
It’s not that there aren’t obvious benefits to exposing your child to sounds while it’s still in the womb. Like many parents, I too placed headphones on my sleeping wife’s abdomen to see if our baby reacted to Pink Floyd. I feel the exposure broadened his musical appreciation, though it did cause him to cover his ears and inadvertently prolong pregnancy for an extra week.
However, accidentally frightening your unborn child with rock music is one thing. Enrolling them in a 16-week “Prenatal University” program is another.
This program, which was developed by a California-based obstetrician, promises to intellectually enrich fetuses using a special microphone and strict conversational regimen aimed at stimulating the developing brain.
I don’t know how long this program has been available, but, from what I can see, so far it hasn’t had much of an effect on California.
The truth is, why would any parent want to hasten the intellectual gap between themselves and their children— or worse: risk being outsmarted by someone who does their best thinking while chewing on a binkie?
The bottom line is that I’m not sure how smart children really need to be before they come into the world.
Maybe there’s a reason the umbilical cord doesn’t come with an intercom system?
(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation and a member of the writing team at Long Awkward Pause. This has been an excerpt from his book, Humor at the Speed of Life, available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)