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Mommy's Little Mommy

I spent part of the weekend doing those
boring chores around the house that no one wants to do but everyone
needs to, and which make you feel very virtuous when you finally
get to cross them off your list. One of those chores brought me
into our musty basement and in contact with an old trunk of toys
from my childhood. Remembering there was a doll’s cradle in
there, I took a few minutes and cracked the thing open.

I found the cradle, ready for assembly and reeking of the 1970s
with its lovely gold and brown polyester. And as a bonus, I
discovered my old Betsy Wetsy doll. Maddie’s been interested
in babies and life-like dolls for a while now, so I figured
I’d give her a few new things to play with.

And let’s face it: I’m happy to train her to give a
hand with the newborn.

So Brian set up the crib and we handed
over Betsy and watched Maddie go to town. Truth be told, Maddie was
itching to get her hands on the thing and almost couldn’t
wait for the cradle to be put completely together; she practically
snatched it out of our hands, carried Betsy over, and began
crooning to her.

For the next half hour or so my daughter was incredibly busy with
Betsy’s bedtime routine. She’d put Betsy in the bed,
tuck her in with an old doll’s quilt my grandmother had made,
and say, “Night night. Sleep tight.” Maddie let her
“child” sleep for about 10 seconds, at which point
she’d quickly tire of that part of the game so she’d
rip off the quilt and say, “Get up dolly!”

Let me assure you, I’ve never in my life done that to Maddie.
In fact, the part where she sleeps is my favorite part of the game
and I’ve never grown bored with it.

I’m amazed at how long this held Maddie’s attention.
She’s exhibiting a huge mothering streak which I know is less
instinctively nurturing and more instinctively imitating; I realize
it’s simply a developmental phase where the minutiae of life
– bathing, eating, tending for others – are fascinating
to her. This still doesn’t diminish how adorable she is while
tending her “baby”.

Baby doll Betsy (I haven’t yet revealed the Wetsy part of
Betsy’s personality –why introduce that fun mess) has
now been put through a full day with Madeleine. Maddie puts her in
the doll high chair and feeds her, after whipping up a delicious
meal in her play kitchen; she puts Betsy in the kid-sized rocking
chair and rocks her and reads to her; and of course puts her to bed
and awakens her several times. When Kitty prowled interestedly a
little too close to the toy cradle, Maddie chased her away sternly
with a “No no no Kitty! Dolly’s!”

I should’ve realized, though, that Maddie would want her baby
doll to grow up to be just like her. While my back was turned the
first night, I heard Maddie exclaim, “Naked Dolly!”

Yes, indeedy, she’d taken Betsy’s clothes off and was
gleefully helping her streak through the house. What else could I
do but allow Naked Dolly to follow Naked Girl into the bathtub that
night? We washed dolly’s hair and helped her splash about in
the bathtub, which Maddie loved so much we ended up getting out our
old baby bathtub and helping Maddie bathe dolly the next day.

Thank heavens Betsy’s used to being wet.


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