Report by: “Dr Emmy” (Emmanuel Ehinmero)
Ex- Student Bariga Comprehensive High School, Ifako, Lagos.
Becoming a father or mother can be a wonderful and fulfilling life experience, particularly when it happens by choice. However, most teenage pregnancies are unintended and the teens parents are not prepared for it. Teen parents often experience serious educational, vocational and financial problems. The teenage mother faces the risk of increased health problems. The teen mother and probably the father usually drop out of school to look for a job is often poorly paid, if at all secure. With such a poor financial base, a cycle of dependent on parents, relatives or on public assistance.
Therefore as part of AHI’s Adolescent Peer Educator’s training to give the adolescents some firsthand experience with “parenting” and enable them to appreciate that parenthood is a job with huge responsibilities, the “Egg Baby Contest” was organized.
Each of the 38 participants received an egg, representing “a new born baby” and the students instantly became “parents”. Keeping an egg as a baby is no fun! Try imagining yourself, suddenly, becoming a father or mother without any preparation for it.
“You are expected to care for your egg as you would care for your own baby. For the next five days, you are totally responsible for his/her safety and comfort. This means you will take him/her with you, wherever you go and you must keep him/her warm and dry”. These were the words of Auntie ‘Nike Esiet, who placed the egg babies into the care of the adolescents trainees.
In fact at the beginning of the exercise, majority of them were amused at the thought of keeping an egg baby. Little did they know that this was not a minor exercise, like addition and subtraction is, in arithmetic. Not until Tonex (Kunle Ogunbayo’s baby) had a great fall and cracked at about 1.50 p.m. that afternoon, only three hours after it was given to him. Cynthia (Betty Akpan’s baby) collapsed at about 2.20 p.m. the same day; then the importance of the contest began to be appreciated. Nevertheless both egg babies had to be certified dead by Dr. Emmy a consultant “infantician”, who diagnosed their primary cause of death as “parental negligence”. After the training that day, most of them had come to the realisation that keeping an egg baby was no fun.
The days passed by slowly and finally the day of reckoning came. A total of eight egg babies had died. The question now was who wins the prize of best parent? Parents of the survivors brought out their egg babies for the last time and Dr. Emmy, the consultant “infantician” went round as usual for the daily assessment criteria one more time and announced the name of the egg babies who were not qualified for the final round assessment because of their previous poor ratings. A panel consisting of four parents, whose egg babies had died were selected, to critically examine and choose the best three babies using the following criteria:
Protection- What level of protection from danger/accidents was given?
Neatness- How clean was the egg baby’s body and environment kept?
Materials- Items used as linen and clothing for appropriates and safety e.g. no use of nylons or abrasive fabrics.
Baby’s health- Egg baby must have no crack or fracture, and must be clean and tidy.
Attractiveness- Baby’s body/dressing must be nice and attractive enough for anyone to admire and its cot must be eye- catching.
After due consultation, the four –member panel of judges selected the best three egg babies. They were:
1st – Ikumapayi Olaitan’s daughter, Remilekun.
2nd- Badmus Adetola’s son, Churchill
3rd –Suzie Osubor’s son, Sylvester
Prizes were presented to the three loving mothers.
It is significant to note that the three winners were girls. This may not be surprising, but there are lessons to be learnt from it. The problem of early parenthood affects young men as well as young women, but the responsibilities of childcare usually falls on the woman, a role they need to be prepared for adequately.
The contest ended with a class discussion which afforded everyone opportunity to express their feelings and compare experiences as “parents”. It was obvious at the end of the exercise that avoiding early parenthood, either by abstaining from sex or by using contraceptives to abstain was an issue central to teens’ preparation for a fulfilling adult life.