Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Boy in Training

“Mmm-waaaaa!  Mmm-waaaa!” Cayce gives his doll kisses.  He thrusts the doll into my face so that I can also give him kisses.  He says, “Ah (eye)” as he points to the green stitched eye, and “Mah” as he points to the pink stitched mouth.  He says, “Ha(t).  Ha(t)” pointing to the doll’s long tapered hat, but still unable to pronounce the closing “t” sound.  Then by the tip of said “ha” he flings the baby aside as he nuzzles up to nurse. 

Another thing he loves to do is to throw the baby off the side of the bed and then peer over it, saying “Uh-oh,” and watching with great satisfaction as Mommy becomes a contortionist in her effort to rescue the wee creature from certain peril.

When Cayce does this little Michael Jackson move with his doll, I think he is testing me to make sure that I will help him rescue it.  He can’t rescue his doll yet- the bed, not a crib, but a queen size bed that we share- is too high.  If I leave Cayce to rescue his doll, he’s likely to get hurt doing it.   So in that moment when I lean over and let all the blood rush into my head and get dizzy while I get that darned doll I am giving Cayce the message that dolls, like babies, need to be taken care of.   The idea of babies being cared for is already part of his belief system, and he is asking me to confirm what he believes to be true.  Of course, he might also be trying to tell me something else… perhaps that the bed isn’t safe for him or the baby doll?  That either of them could go over the side in the way that the doll has?  (We co-sleep in an adult bed, and I am forever weighing in my mind the benefits of this nurturance versus the risks of a head injury- but that’s a subject for another blog post.)

I guess the doll has been a success.  Certainly the other adults in the room were taken with it when I helped Cayce pull it out of the box.  A unique, one-of-a-kind Waldorf style doll named Aslan of Scottish descent in a Shetland sweater body and a few curly blond locks of yarn peeking out from the brim of his stocking hat.  The doll maker achieved a lovely cotton face complete with blushing cheeks, but no nose, as is the Waldorf style.  I think the idea is that noses are too specific, too distinct, so if you want the doll to mirror your child, no nose perhaps better resembles your child than a too distinct nose… The doll has a wonderful feel and warmth, since it’s made from all natural materials, and stuffed with wool.  A plush, but synthetic bunny might take on the chill of the room, but not Aslan the handmade doll.  Aslan is always warm.  He warms like a blanket on a cold night.

Still, Aslan has faced some stiff competition from some of Cayce’s other stuffed, albeit synthetic, friends.    I think the distinctions in craftsmanship are mostly lost on Cayce.  Perhaps over time the handcrafted doll will prove to win the boy’s lasting affection but right now, any doll or stuffed animal or diaper package will do.   Right now, I hate to say it, but Cayce’s fascination with Elmo trumps his other affections.  He finds Elmo everywhere, in an ad from a parenting magazine, on a diaper, in the hand-me-down Elmo knapsack that arrived from his six-year-old friend Sylvie in Brooklyn on Christmas Eve.  Elmo is on our 6 a.m. commercial-free public broadcasting, and in the shape of our Earth’s Best crackers.  Elmo is in the house. 

Elmo’s baby voice drives Mommy and Daddy crazy.  And I think his plastic golf ball eyes are perhaps a little less wholesome to teethe on than Aslan’s sweater hat.  The ink portraying Elmo on the diapers is horrendous.  Cayce will cry now while I’m changing him unless I give him a spare diaper to “read.”  He turns it around in his hands, examining the little Elmo’s and “Osh-cahs” (who are in fact Cookie Monsters) with the gravitas of an historian scrutinizing a dead sea scroll.  He’s so obsessed I’m considering abandoning Pampers altogether and switching to cloth.  

But it is what it is.  And Elmo is Elmo.  And as long as everyone’s getting more-- “Mmmm-waaaaa!”-- kisses than they are tosses over the edge of doom, then I guess it’s all good.

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