April 04, 2011


Marian is going through a baby doll phase. She is rarely found without one in her arms. They come with us in the car, around the house, to the grocery store. In any store or playroom, they draw her to them like a tractor beam. The other morning I told her the two of us could do anything she wanted, anything at all: ride the carousel, go to the park, get tasty cookies from the bakery. The (toddler-height) sky was the limit. "Play with babies," she said immediately.

I went through something similar, once upon a time.
Me, age three-ish
When I was three years old my mother made me a doll, a soft and simple little thing. It was a gift for Christmas or my birthday; I can't remember now. She had brown eyes and yellow hair, just like me.  My mom took scraps of fabric leftover from clothes she had sewn for me or things I had outgrown and made a wardrobe for the doll that matched my own.

I named the doll Jennifer and fell in love. I loved that she looked like me. I loved that my three-year old hands could easily dress her. I loved that her clothes matched mine. I knew that it was made for no one else but me. She was played with and carted around, her clothes buttoned and unbuttoned, for years and years until she was stained and floppy. Eventually she was packed away in my parents' attic with my other special toys.

When Mari started her baby doll phase, my mom and I thought of Jennifer and her big buttons, the perfect size for little hands. And so for Christmas, Mari (and Jennifer) got a friend, complete with a wardrobe made from Mari's outgrown clothes.

Not surprisingly, Mari thought her new doll was wonderful and was especially taken with the fact that it was just like Mama's old doll. The two dolls are a pair in her mind, not to be separated. If she is playing with one, she makes sure someone else is tending to the other, and she insists they share the same box when her playthings are put away.

There is a certain sweetness in seeing her tiny fingers fumbling as she buttons on an outfit made of clothing I once wore so long ago, in taking in her delight at the doll that is just like her and remembering my own long ago joy.  Watching the echoes of my childhood in my own children is quieting, connecting--comforting in a way I did not know to anticipate when parenthood was still just an imagined dream.


Cynthia said...

so, so wonderful. And dang that girl is cute.

Kelly said...

This is so sweet. Mea has a few dolls that she plays with that were mine, then passed down to her older sister Mack, and now she plays with too. It's a really nice thing to see.

Amara Oden said...

That is a very sweet story. I have one doll I got on my sixth birthday that I loved to BITS - and I do mean to bits. In college she served as the poltergeisty baby they needed. My 5 year old son now loves to play with her. Gives me major joy.

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