Monday, July 14, 2014

BSC #52: Mary Anne + 2 Many Babies

By Ann M. Martin. Published March 1992.

Mary Anne starts off giving us the whole “Great Romance” rundown, and it’s not the most compelling beginning. It all leads us to Mary Anne and Dawn having a snack and discussing a new course at school, Modern Living, where they’ll learn about marriage, job hunting, finances, and the like. The girls think it sounds ridiculous.

Thank goodness Mary Anne and Logan are in the same Modern Living class. Their first day, they get to get married. Along with the rest of the class. But, horror of horrors! There are four extra boys! Mrs. Boyden, their teacher, says they’ll just have to be two couples. They all say they won’t be the girl. Sigh. I know this is 1992, but still, it’s depressing.

Their first assignment is to figure out how they’ll be financially independent. Mary Anne and Logan work together that afternoon, and call each other pet names like honey and sweetheart. They first start looking for apartments, and are shocked at how expensive they are. They total up how much they both make baby-sitting in a year, and realize they can’t even pay one month’s rent. They decide they’ll have to live at Mary Anne’s house.

Mary Anne has a perfectly perfect job, sitting for Rose and Ricky Salem, who they met at the infant-care class. Mary Anne is disgustingly arrogant, saying she knows everything there is to know about childcare, and that anyone would just take a child care course, they’d be prepared.

That night, as Mary Anne is telling Dawn about the twins, they get to wondering about their parents having a baby, or maybe adopting one. They get so caught up in discussing possible names, they don’t hear Richard and Sharon come in, but they sure hear the girls, and they’re like, WTF? Dawn says they’ve noticed a pattern of people getting married, then have or adopt babies. Sharon’s all, Not everyone, bitches. I wish she had seized the opportunity to go off on a rant here, but she doesn’t.

At their next Modern Living class, they begin the great egg project. You know, where they have to pretend the egg is a baby, and they have to take care of it. Mrs. Boyden says they’ll be on the honor system for this project, and invites them to tell on one another if they see someone not doing it correctly. But really, you can get away with just carrying the egg around with you for a month and not breaking it. But of course, most people take it very seriously, and Mary Anne and Logan work out who’s taking care of her (yes, her) when, and all that shit.

Kristy gets paired up with Alan Gray, and she’s pissed at first, but he turns out to take the egg project just as seriously as she does. So seriously in fact, that he calls when she’s sitting for the Papadakises’, and they have a ten minute conversation about the state of their egg, Izzy. Responsible sitting, Kristy. Anyway, when she finally hangs up, the kids have taken off with Izzy. She finds them, but they’ve put Izzy down somewhere, but can’t remember where. So they look for him, with Linny and Hannie making a bunch of egg puns. They find Izzy, and Kristy joins in on the puns.

Yes, this deserved its own chapter.

Mary Anne and Logan name their egg Samantha, or Sammie. Thank goodness we got that figured out. Mary Anne has to take Sammie to another job at the Salems’. She figures three infants will be just as easy as two. Ricky and Rose are fussy and not perfect like last time. And Mary Anne takes the whole egg thing too seriously while caring for ACTUAL babies. She doesn’t truly neglect them or anything, at least.

There are three egg babies at the BSC meeting. Stacey at least isn’t taking the whole thing so damn serious. She’s doing the work, and well, but she’s not obsessive. Jessi and Mal wonder what it’s like being married. The girls say things like expensive, you have to communicate, etc. The younger girls want to know why there’s nothing about love. The girls figure it would probably be easier.

Stacey sits for new clients, Bobby and Alicia Gianelli. Bobby is in Karen’s class at school. Stacey’s egg is also named Bobby. This causes a lot of ridiculous confusion. I’m sure it’s supposed to be hilarious, like Who’s on First? But, I have to admit, I’ve never found that funny after the first time. Also, Alicia is terrified of the egg. Because, sure, why not? So Stacey has to call her “husband”, Austin Bentley, to come get the egg. This makes her think about what would have happened if it were a real baby, and then about how much harder it would be to be a single parent, like her own mom.

Logan wants to go to a movie alone with Mary Anne, and she says she’ll take care of things. However, she doesn’t, so they have to take Sammie with them. It goes pretty badly, of course. Mary Anne stupidly thinks the egg in a basket will hold down a seat, and it flips up. Sammie’s fine, though. But then Mary Anne loses her for a while on the floor. Logan has had enough by then, and they leave, separately, with Logan taking Sammie.

Mal and Dawn sit for the Pikes, and Dawn brings her egg, Skip, with her. The kids love the idea, so they pair up and adopt two eggs per couple. Vanessa wants her eggs to have clothes, so she tries drawing some on with crayon. But she presses too hard, and breaks it. She is distraught. Mal and Dawn tell her she’s being ridiculous, she’d only known the egg for a few minutes. After they get it cleaned up, they let her have another egg, and everything is lovely.

Except for what I get out of it. Under the pretext of this being a real baby, I’ve learned that if your baby dies shortly after birth, just get over it, forget about it, and adopt another. That’s messed up, Ann.

Signs of strain are showing in the kids by Mary Anne’s next Modern Living class. Kids are wanting divorces, losing their eggs, and are simply unable to care for them. Mrs. Boyden is ok with all this, as long as they chronicle it in their papers. All this drama almost brings Mary Anne and Logan back together, but he still doesn’t trust her with Sammie, so they’re still pissed.

Mary Anne sits for the Salems YET AGAIN, and has an even worse time of it. The twins are teething, and it gets so bad she has to call Dawn in for reinforcement. That night, they decide that their parents having a baby might not be the best idea. Glad to see you’ve let them off the hook, girls.

Logan calls, and they make up. They realize they’re not ready for all these responsibilities.

They turn in a thirty-two-page report on the last day of the class. And then they’re told their kids are now twenty-one, and are leaving them. They’re asked to write a short essay about what their kids will be doing. Sammie will be moving to New York to start a job in publishing. Then they have to just leave the eggs. Mrs. Boyden won’t tell them what will happen to the eggs.

At the meeting that day, all the girls are feeling free. Stacey is particularly pleased. And they all agree they’re not old enough to have kids. Even though they do know everything about them.

Mary Anne and Dawn are very glad they were never able to convince their parents to have a baby. So when Richard and Sharon come home and tell them that all the baby talk got them thinking, they freak. But don’t worry; they’re just talking about adding another pet to the family. The girls decide against that, though; they say it’s because of Modern Living. Richard’s all, “Modern Living?”, like he’s never heard of it before. Really, Richard? Your daughter and stepdaughter have been dragging eggs around with them everywhere for a fucking month, and you either haven’t noticed, or haven’t wondered why? What the fuck, Richard?

o   Mary Anne is really proud of their finances report. They even used a protractor. A PROTRACTOR, Y’ALL. Fancy.

o   I’ve seen the whole egg thing many times in fiction, but have never actually heard of it happening in real life. Anybody?

o   I know, I know. This is the BSC, so the focus would be on the baby factor. But. I wish they had explored the other promised lessons of the class. The kids kept talking about how expensive babies and just living are, all the way to the end, but they never mention having learned anything about the finances or job-hunting. You’d really think all those lessons were supposed to go together…

o   So, I spent all of Saturday with my goddaughters, one of whom is thirteen. It just really hammered home how unrealistic the BSC girls are. My goddaughter is incredibly smart and mature (and just all around awesome), but there is no way she could handle the things these books would expect of her. I really don’t think she’d want that.


  1. I did the egg project in 7th grade. For a week. It basically was "don't break it and you pass". Nothing about finances or anything, more about the time babies can take. That would have been about the time this book was written.

  2. I was just talking my fourteen-year-old cousin and she had a class with those realistic baby dolls this past school year. She lives in Nevada. I never got to (Washington) but I wanted to. Of course, I've been doing it for real for the past three and a half years, so...

    And oh my gosh. The horrifying implications of the Pikes and the broken egg.

    Wasn't this the book in which Mallory said something about "You don't realize how tired you are when you have a new baby" and night feedings and so on, because she actually remembers having a young baby in the house? I reread this (or whichever book) after my older daughter was born and I loved Mallory so much.

    I think there were also some lines about preparing formula. Of course some babies will need formula--my own supply with my first baby was low for a while, some mothers can't produce much or need medications that would be harmful in breast milk, some babies are adopted--but with the talk of finances! Formula is so expensive. I find it more difficult, too, having had to supplement and also having taken care of my goddaughter when she was an infant (her mom's supply got low when Goddaughter was six months old). Formula has to measured and mixed and bottles cleaned just so and everything packed when out and about...if you have a good supply of milk it's just right there. Baby wakes up hungry at night? You (or better yet, the dad!) can change a diaper half-awake, get back in bed, and doze while the baby nurses.

  3. I remember being that age and thinking I knew everything, too. So I guess Ann got that right, heh. (It's a good thing I spent most of my time reading and not dating, or I would have been in for a rude awakening!)

    Those eggs went unrefrigerated for a whole month? Ew.

  4. We did water bottle babies in 12th grade psychology class but only for a week. It was fine but some girls took it way too seriously. The actual childcare classes did the realistic babies but just for two nights or so. Those things were nuts. It also seemed too little, too late, as a bunch of girls had already gotten pregnant by 12th grade. Maybe 8th grade would have been the right time for such scare tactics.