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He’s a doll (01/11/2012)
By Frances Edstrom


I got all three of my grandchildren dolls for Christmas. Peyton’s is blonde, like she is. Andie’s, like her, has dark hair with bangs and pigtails. And Harry’s is dark haired with a hair do that looks like Justin Bieber on a very bad hair day, not much like Harry.

There was more than a little discussion in the family as to whether I should be giving Harry a doll, even though if I had called it an “action figure,” it would have been perfectly all right. In fact, I did ask my daughter, his mother, what she thought, and her reaction was positive, especially when I told her the accessories available with the doll included a potty chair and related items, such as training pants. That’s an “action” she can get behind.

It seems Harry, like so many little boys, just isn’t much interested in stopping everything just to use the potty, which is beginning to frustrate his parents, though it doesn’t bother him a bit. They, I’m sure, have fears of not being able to send him to school until he’s potty trained, and envision him being the oldest kid in the class, looming over all the rest, stuffed into a chair at the back of the room. Having successfully, if slowly, potty trained a little boy many years ago, I have tried to reassure them that the minute Harry sees a reason to be potty trained, he’ll just do it, no problem.

So on Christmas, Harry, along with his girl cousins, received a doll — with a potty chair. He liked the potty chair better than the doll. Peyton said, upon seeing her doll, “I already have a doll.” And Andie tried to ruin the hair on hers.

There are a few dolls in my past, most notably one with a bisque face and brown hair that I named after my Aunt Kay. One of my little siblings threw her in the bathtub with the oven racks that were soaking in bleach, and she had to go to the doll hospital to get new hair and new make-up, after which she was good as new. One of my earlier dolls I named Hoodsie, after an ice cream treat sold by the Hood Milk Co. Even then, I had a fixation with food. My mother had a Shirley Temple doll with curly blond hair that we couldn’t play with. We could only look at her as she sat on a high shelf. I have no idea what happened to her, but mother also had some small china dolls that I still have. They have no clothes, but some of them have moveable arms. I named them after characters in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado — Yum Yum, Peep-bo, and Pitti Sing, later shortened to Patti.

There were always dolls around our house, although I don’t remember that we were very devoted to them. When we played with the neighbor girls, we mostly played paper dolls, which aren’t much in vogue any more. But they and their wardrobes were more portable than real dolls. For the most part, though, unless it was raining, we spent all our time playing outdoors, not a great place for dolls.

I’m sure my three sisters had dolls, although I only remember my sister Terri actually playing with them. She had two favorites, which she named Holy Water and Radio Station. You might think it odd that each doll had a double name, but remember this was the period of time when mothers were naming nice little Catholic girl babies things like Mary Ann, Mary Jane, Mary Pat, Mary Clair, Mary Jo, Mary just about anything.

Holy Water and Radio Station were Terri’s constant companions, and managed to insert themselves into the lives of the entire family. Terri would often put them to bed on the shelves in the refrigerator, covered with little blankets to keep them warm, and we were always looking for the jelly or the orange juice and finding dolls instead.

Since most of my memories of dolls have to do with their names, I was interested in what my grandchildren would name their dolls. Peyton, when she was younger, had several dolls, all of whom she gave boys’ names — Henry, Bob, and most notably, Andy Reid (there might have been some influence from her father there, an Eagles fan). Her favorite she named after herself, Baby Peyton. She even wanted to name one of her sister’s dolls Peyton. But on Christmas Day, she couldn’t come up with a name for her doll, and as far as I know, neither has Andie.

Harry, however, had no problem naming his doll. He calls him Uncle. I’d say there is no problem with gender identification there, but he might have generational relationships a bit backwards. Latest reports are that Uncle and Harry are doing fine. 


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