Let me ask you a purely academic question: Hello?
— Dean Blehert

Monday, February 20, 2006

What Became of Baby Doll?

Mama causes things. Little girl gets caused -- ears scrubbed, teeth brushed, dress and shoes put on, shoelaces tied ("...and don't get them muddy!") by Mama. Overwhelming, all that one-way causation, unless little girl is given a littler girl to scold, dress up, take places. Little girl can't be trusted with baby sister, but a doll will do.

At least that's how it used to be when dolls were mostly rubber and porcelain babies or cloth Raggedy Annes (little girls) or furry teddy bears (cuddly -- pets that can be handled, yet won't need to be buried in a shoe box beneath the bushes in the back yard because "I told you not to handle it so much").

Mama caused things to happen to her child, so her child caused things to happen to her mock-child or pet, child becoming mock-Mama. Later, in grade school, big girl snipped out Betty and Veronica from comic books, dressed them (Fold Tab A into Slot B) in cut-out clothes, wanting to be Betty or Veronica, because they could cause things to happen to boys, who specialize in causing things to happen to girls.

That's how it used to be. But tiny hard-plastic bimbo-Barbie (our Betty and Veronica) is all the rage with tots. Who is trying to be what? Who wants whom to be what? The child is mother to the nubile teen-ager? (Babies are, after all, unwanted.)

And Barbie is so small -- an adult doll, yet tiny compared to the long-ago pliable soft baby dolls that sat up and said "Mama!" and lay back and closed their lashed eyes.

Our dolls are aging, and so are our children. If we live again, a newborn baby is, after all, someone who recently died. Perhaps the next generation of dolls will be tiny old people, made of hard slippery plastic designed to be shoved up into the womb to entertain pre-natals and remind them whence they come.

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