(Originally posted June 13, 2008)
Mia has a baby doll that she loves like it’s part of her anatomy.
It’s a grubby, raggedy thing now. Its soft body and legs loved so much they have lost all shape, her plastic head has lost a bit of its paint and her eyes don’t quite close properly.
In fact I’ve tried my hardest to get her to replace it with something a bit more, well let’s say aesthetically pleasing shall we, or cleaner, or a bit less offensive to your nasal passages.
But there is no way she is giving up that doll. Or Baby, as she’s called.
She was never allowed a name. Anyone who asks: ‘what is the dolly’s name?” is treated to a withering stare as if you’ve just asked “can I cut your doll’s head off” and she replies: “It’s Baby”. And you had best leave it at that.
Mia mothers this baby so tenderly it’s a joy to watch.
Truly, it is so heartwarming to see her coo over this plastic monstrosity, rock it in her arms and move away an imaginary lock of stray hair all tenderly.It makes me want to scoop them both up (overriding my gagging reflex as Baby moves under my nose, obvisouly) and smother them in love.
Shall I pause here a moment while you ahh/tut/gag . . .
Mia takes Baby everywhere. It is her comfort.
I have a friend whose children both have comforters. Neither of them were the slightest bit interested in a dummy. But her six-year-old son has the raggiest, most thread-bare Bagpuss toy you have EVER seen (which also stinks) and her 4-year-old daughter has one of mummy’s old vest tops which she calls Cuggy and drags it around like a female version of Linus in Charlie Brown.
Bagpuss has been banned from school (I suspect it’s the smell, but I’m told the teacher said it’s not ‘appropriate’) so mummy has to have it in the car at all times so he knows precisely where it is.
Cuggy must NEVER be washed for fear of it smelling ‘wrong’ and if it does ever come into contact with cleaning fluids it must under no circumstances be dried on the radiator because if it’s warm, well put it this way, there will be screaming.
Dummies may have been a darn sight easier.
So tonight Mia is sitting on her beanbag, chatting to Baby in a tender voice: “You OK Baby?” she asks and rocks her gently in her arms.
And then it dawns on me! She’s copying her mum. I have taught her those tender ways, that loving nature. My god, I did do something right! I am not a parenting failure.
Just as I’m about to swell up with pride or joy or arrogance or something much more unseemly, Mia stands up, picks Baby up by the leg and tosses her on the sofa.