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Wait Until You Hear About Centaur Babies!

, , , , | Learning | March 20, 2021

In the fourth grade, I became obsessed with the discovery of “mermaid babies” — babies who are born with webbed feet and/or hands, or with their legs and/or feet fused together. Every week in my class, someone was required to present a news report on any topic we wished, and of course, my topic was on this interesting phenomenon of mutations.

Unfortunately, my enthusiasm following my week to present led a lot of my classmates to get annoyed and skeptical with me. One kid even came up and basically called me a liar and a fraud because her mom told her mermaid babies aren’t really mermaids but babies with their skin fused together. She got especially annoyed when I just gave her a confused look and went, “Duh, it’s not like they’re born with gills or something,” and walked away.

I finally gave my presentation, starting with a short fictional story I read about pregnant women laying by a “mermaid lake” who then gave birth to actual mermaids. I made sure to mention that the story was just a legend — incorrect word but I didn’t know that — and wasn’t real, before diving into my actual findings about a baby who had to have surgery to separate their legs.

I’ll never forget the look of awe on my teacher’s face as she listened to me speak. And after I was done, she set her grading clipboard down and asked, “So… Wait… Are these real mermaids? Like, can they breathe underwater and everything?” 

I stood there, dumbfounded for a second, before replying, “No, Mrs. [Teacher]. Mermaids aren’t actually real; it’s just the baby’s legs stuck together.”

I wish I could remember what I wrote and read to my class. It still bothers me to this day, wondering where in my presentation I went wrong for her to ask me that.