The Baby discovered Princess Commando's lone Barbie doll (Astronaut Barbie) the other day. She was fascinated by the long silky hair and kept patting her own head to compare the texture and length. She produced a "word" which resembled "hair." And, it dawned on me that maybe having a doll would be a good opportunity to help her better relate to the parts of the body- to be able to show me where something hurt (for instance, when she had an earache) and to reinforce her growing vocabulary. And while she is a relatively gentle child, it would not be a bad idea to use the doll to help model how to be tender and compassionate toward others. I was telling my mother during a phone conversation about my excitement in being able to buy The Baby a babydoll, as Princess Commando never showed any interest in dolls. My mother told me that she still had in her possession a doll from her childhood and she would bring it over.
The doll is 55 years old. It is about the size of a 6 month old baby. It has piercing blue eyes with thick dark lashes and lids that close when she is tipped backward. She also has a bright red, cupid's bow mouth. The Baby was terrified of the doll and hid behind a chair until my mother sweetly coaxed her out. My mother sat both babies on her lap and assured The Baby that Babydoll was harmless. But, The Baby wasn't buying it.
The Baby took a little time to warm up to Babydoll. But, eventually she extended her hand to examine Babydoll's body parts- shifting her limbs, manipulating the movable eyelids and assessing the whorls and grooves on her head which suggested hair.
I thought that maybe The Baby would be able to better relate to Babydoll if she was dressed in familiar clothing. I pulled an outfit that The Baby had outgrown from a storage bin and dressed Babydoll in it. It did not produce the desired result. In fact, it freaked the older kids out when it appeared that The Baby was hanging off of the couch- when in reality it was Babydoll tipped on her side. I must admit, on a couple of occasions that evening, my eyes had been tricked into believing The Baby had escaped from her crib when I caught a glimpse of Babydoll sitting in the middle of the living room wearing The Baby's clothes.
The Baby did try to engage Babydoll in conversation. It was really quite sweet. The boys and I watched from the kitchen doorway as The Baby babbled to Babydoll in the living room. Upon realizing that she was not going to receive a response from Babydoll, she knocked her over and then dug her little fingers into her eyeballs and dragged her by the face across the floor. So much for tenderness. When The Baby realized we were watching her, she quickly flashed us a huge grin and shrugged her shoulders up and down in a little dance- as if to say, "I wasn't doing anything wrong. We were just dancing."
Maybe, with time, Babydoll will grow on The Baby. But for now, she has found a home in the fireplace with our flying monkey statue who is forever frozen in a "raise the roof" pose.
On a positive note, Babydoll has provided me with a new method of tormenting my children. If you really want to spook someone, replace their afternoon snack from the cupboard with an eerie 55 year old babydoll.