I love how having a child can help me to realize some of my childhood dreams (of being a mom), make others fade (the idea of having ten kids AND being a Supreme Court Justice), and then completely dash and crumble others.
Today, it was the hopes of having my only surviving childhood doll, a lovingly handmade Cabbage Patch knockoff with pink nail polish blobs on her fabric fingers left over from an extremely unsound girlhood decision, toted around and loved on by my own child.
(Did you notice how I just wrote “loved on”? My Miami roots are fast dissipating – I even catch myself saying, “Come here! Come to Mama!”)
But my own childhood doll, made-to-order to look like me with green eyes and long brown hair, is the one item Muffin has mostly ignored, while she has lovingly doted on her other dolls.
Until today, when she came into the spare bedroom where I was painting, chucked it on the canvas drop cloth in front of the upright vacuum cleaner, and jabbing at it said, “Vac it Mommy! Vac it!”
You know those Cabbage Patch dolls from back in the day? I wanted one like nobody’s business. And though I begged and schemed, it never happened.
1983 was the year my parents came home from an out-of-state seminar with a big cardboard box of curriculum from the same fundamentalist Christian homeschooling group as the Duggar Family from the recently cancelled 19 Kids and Counting TV show.
It was also the year when the Cabbage Patch dolls really became a thing. (Don’t you just love the Internet for being able to look up and confirm that you’re not just conveniently allowing something to coincide with your memories?)
I was eight.
While I started out in a really great private Christian school, we began homeschooling because of my father’s schedule. He was specializing in wiring and troubleshooting the great big Heildelberg printing presses and other sorting and binding equipment associated with the print industry which meant emergency calls, working through the night when the presses were stopped, and even taking apart and reassembling these mammoths as far away as Mexico at one point.
When the school wouldn’t accommodate a request to complete our daily education quota in eight hours (leaving off the hour or so of homework at the end of the day so my Dad could have that time with us) or be flexible with vacation days, my parents came up with homeschooling.
A year into homeschooling, we joined A.T.I.A. (thus the big cardboard box) and were with them for well over a decade, eventually becoming more “typical” after moving to Georgia and gravitating toward others in the same organization, but compared to other families I knew then (and read about now) we were serious, but far from fanatic, except about a few things (more on that another day).
A few years into it, I was sitting in the nosebleed section of a half-way filled stadium, in one of the many week-long seminars famous for writer’s cramp (and probably comparing my calligraphy note-taking with the studious person beside me), when its founder, Bill Gothard blew the lid off of Cabbage Patch dolls saying they’d been given demon/satanic/foreign god names which was allowing Satan to have “ground” in people’s lives and homes.
Supporting evidence involved a family whose children woke up with night terrors…which suddenly stopped once the Cabbage Patch dolls were not only removed from their home, but ceremoniously burned. (Something I did in my A.T.I.A. years out in my parent’s driveway with CDs. I think with really bad stuff, John Denver, Phantom of the Opera, and the like.)
As impressionable as ever, this was petrifying news for me. Cabbage Patch dolls were still hugely popular and sold out in stores, and my mom hadn’t quite yet taken up the challenge of risking life and limb fighting with other shoppers to get one real Cabbage Patch doll for me, much less the additional two she’d need for my sisters.
And with Bill Gothard’s news, I was relieved to have never owned one – because then I’d have to burn it…and I spent the next couple of years warning everyone who owned Cabbage Patch dolls.
There was even mention of turning Cabbage Patch dolls to face the wall, or placing them out in the garage, or face down in the toy box, whatever you could get away with, if you were babysitting or staying with people that had them…but who might frown upon an impromptu bonfire…and I might have ritualistically put a Cabbage Patch or two in oddly conspicuous places (and I’m sorry to the parents who came home and asked about the dolls with their noses in the corner and I understand why you didn’t ask me back).
But I’ve since seen kids wake up screaming in homes that don’t have Cabbage Patch dolls and in perfectly peaceful environments such as Bible studies…so there’s that. And I’ve also experienced the power of God in my life in ways I never did growing up. So I’m not deathly afraid of inanimate objects like maybe I was before. Whew!
Now when I get creeped out by Cabbage Patch dolls it’s usually more just because I’m wondering, “Who keeps these things? And who buys them?!”
But anyway, back to today. I’ve tried to get Muffin to play with Gloria (my homemade Cabbage Patch doll) but she always tells me she doesn’t want to. And who could blame her when there’s Maisy, Milly, Molly, Maudy and Annabelle? (Names which may, or may not, be identical to people we know…compliment, y’all, compliment!)
But things were starting to look up when, a few days ago, I found this.
And then this morning, this.
Gloria, the homemade Cabbage Patch doll, does not get her own blankie but at least she’s included!
I got my homemade Cabbage Patch doll so late in the game that it wasn’t amply toted around and (here it is again) “loved on”, like it could’ve been. But I’d hoped Muffin would make that up to poor little Gloria. I know, I know. A lot to place on the small, bouncy shoulders of a two-year-old.
Well, I guess the pressure finally got to her, and maybe I shouldn’t have been holding such high hopes and snapping all those pics, because today she let me know in no uncertain terms how she felt about that doll!
Muffin was so emphatic that her “Vac it!” sounded like “Jack it!” and it took me a moment to figure out what she was saying. Which isn’t usually hard to do, even though my little smarty, often abbreviates or adds a “y” to her words. (For example, every night while putting on lotion, she’ll say, “I want some ‘losh’ on my ‘handy’ too!” Though she can say “lotion” and “hands” with the best of ’em. And she draws out the word “losh” to sound like something exotic.)
So I’m looking at my beloved doll and I’m looking at my child and I’m like, “Ohhh, Vacuum it? Wait…What? WHY?!” And how could I even vacuum up a doll? What is she thinking?
And Muffin jabs her finger in the direction of the doll thrown on the floor (making all kinds of faces) and both confirms and explains, “Yes, Vac it! Cuz it ugly; like MOMMY!”
So, she gets the part about how the doll looks like me. Good, good. Smart little Muffin. Uhm? Wait!? I told Muffin to immediately recant and she did…as best she could…saying then than my homemade Cabbage Patch doll is ugly “like DADDY.”
So much for my Cabbage Patch doll hopes and dreams! I think, after this, and for old times’ sake, there’s going to be a doll in the corner and maybe even a ceremonious burning!