Sunday, August 19, 2007

dolls and ‘dozers

When Isaac was an infant, I went through a phase in which I was determined to supply him with the perfect baby doll. It would be there for him when he got home, despite whatever kind of genderization of toys he experienced out in that larger world of small boxes and segregated clothing sections. It would be there when he wanted to nurture his nurturing nature. It would be not too big, not too small, not too hard but not a simple stuffed cushion. It would be something other than the blue-eyed blonde-headed doll that he is, reflecting difference where possible, since reinforcement of his mirrored reflection was not hard to find elsewhere. It would be a friend, a teacher, a companion, going everywhere with him, speaking for him when necessary, loving him back.

I searched Ebay. I scoured the web for homemade dolls, artists’ work, something special. I compared 12 inches to 18 inches, debated jewelry the older dolls wore, wondered girl or boy. I found one site that sold extended families of anatomically correct cloth dolls of various ethnicities for a lot of money.

Finally, I dropped it. The obsession just faded away and as my infant became a toddler overcome by the sight of the garbage truck, I bought him likenesses of mechanical beasts and settled for taking pride in the fact that I also bought him pink clothes hangers and yellow socks that the other mothers of boys wouldn’t touch.

I’d nearly forgotten about my desire for Isaac to have a doll when he began, just recently, to wrap random objects in blankets and cradle them lovingly in his arms: playdoh, police cars, bits of his lunch. He’d shush me, tell me his baby was sleeping. So I asked him if he’d like to have a doll.

“Yeah,” he said. “Doll. Baby doll. My baby doll.”

As we already had plans to fill in his truck collection with a long-absent bulldozer, I thought we might as well pick up a doll on the same trip.

Something I essentially have never done – take my kid shopping for toys. In a break with his usual M.O., apparently aware of the uniqueness of the opportunity, Isaac actually readily agreed to sit in the front of the cart.

We found the doll aisle first. There wasn’t a big selection, but I’d left my craving for the ideal doll months ago, back at hormonal surge #346, so this would do.

A woman pushed a cart with her grandson in it past the shelf we were peering at. “I want one of those!” the probably four-year-old said pointing at a Cabbage Patch Kid. “Oh, I don’t think you do,” said his grandmother keeping her stride.

“Which doll do you like?” I asked Isaac. We looked. We held. We debated colors of hats and flexibility of limbs. We changed our mind. We changed our mind again. Iz decided on a small doll in a purple outfit whose eyes closed when you laid it down. It cost $4.99.

“Is this the dolly you want to take home and love and take care of?” I asked.

“Yeah,” said my son, and promptly threw it over his shoulder into the cart without looking back.

There wasn’t any better a selection in the bulldozer aisle. There was only one truck we could find that was officially a bulldozer, besides the remote control monster model I was determined to ignore completely. We discussed scoops and the possibility for indoor or outdoor ‘dozing. Finally, Isaac picked out a small but sturdy dozer with slow crawler tracks – the “real” thing.

Off we started for the check out, but at the end of the aisle there was something else, a packaged pair of friction-charged trucks – a front loader and a tow truck – his two biggest weaknesses. Soon, we’d made a deal for door #3 and the dozer was history.

He wouldn’t put the package in the cart. He insisted on holding it, staring down at it with genuine affection.

“Truck!” he’d squeal every few seconds. “Brannew truck!” he sighed, as he cradled it in crook of his arm.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Asking Isaac to care for his 'new baby' when he was in the mental state to love his "brannew" truck was like asking me to care about curriculum when I'm missing my lunch. We all want different things at different times. Kids are just more clear about expressing it. Jude

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