Wednesday, March 18, 2009

If you give a baby a baby...

I walked in to my daughters room today and witnessed a scene worthy of a C.S.I. investigation. "Dog walking Barbie" and plain old "Barbie" were sprawled naked on the floor. Their arms and legs akimbo, their heads twisted in unnatural positions . Their faces locked in masks of perpetual happiness, actually the faces looked like they always do-but it was creepy!..Poor Barbie's! What had they done to deserve this? Who was responsible for this macabre display? Sigh. This isn't the first time I've run into similar "crime scenes". There have been others. Dolls found stuffed head first into couches, floating face down in the bathtub, sprawled naked on a cold floor. The more I think about it, the more I wonder, just what kind of example am I setting as a mother?

My daughter begged for a baby doll at Christmas. One that she could change and feed-a baby of her very own. I was surprised by this request. She had never shown an interest in dolls before. In fact, the only other time she was given a doll(for her first birthday) she screamed and threw it across the room, never to touch it again. I thought that her change of heart may have to do with going to school. She had only her brothers as playmates before now. And, as she was starting to interact with little girls -I thought her interests might be changing. Santa brought her some Barbies and a baby, whom she promptly named "ponytail". For two days she played with her. Changing her, feeding her, carrying her everywhere. Although I was surprised at her behavior, I didn't comment on it. It turned out to be a short lived phase. Three nights after ponytail came to live with us...I found her naked in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. I questioned my girl about it the next morning. "Lily, you left ponytail naked and on the floor last night. What happened?" Lily looked at me and said" That's o.k. mama, she's just practicing crawling" It is now three months later, and ponytail still hasn't moved. I guess she's still practicing.

This is not the only time that I've witnessed doll neglect by my kids. During both of my boys evaluations, they were given a doll and toy food to play with. Sammy just threw some "food" over to the baby(he was more interested in the other toys) and Oscar glanced at the food and the doll and let them both slowly drop from his hands,with a look that said "I'm just going to pretend I didn't see them". On both occasions, it was commented on that neither of them showed any inclination towards feeding or holding the dolls.That they had no interest in nurturing. It was implied that their lack of participation could be a problem.(What would they think of Lily!) Apparently, the boys should have been attempting to model my behavior. Or, perhaps they were..? "No", I assured the observers, "I don't throw their food on the floor-they do" Although, now that I think about it, I probably should have. More food wound up on the floor at mealtimes than in their mouths-it would have saved on clean up time.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe that modeling good behavior is important. Children do learn by example. I frequently see myself or Omar in the kids facial expressions, gestures and language. Sometimes though, they come up with things all on their own.. Zoe, my youngest, loves opening our front door to greet the school bus-stark naked. She also enjoys standing on top of the nine foot snowbanks in our driveway, dropping her pants to her ankles, and dancing. I can't tell you why she does these things. They are certainly not modeled after anything I have done. (I'm such a prude, I was born clothed) I can only hope that she out grows this by the time she is sixteen.

So now, when I happen upon abused Barbies and the like, I take it with a grain of salt. My kids just aren't that interested in playing with dolls. At least not in the way they are supposedly meant to be played with. The care and feeding of little ones is a huge responsibility. When and if the time comes, I hope they are ready for it. Until then, I'll live with the unpredictability of what I may find in their bedrooms. I will continue trying to set a good example , model loving behavior and hope that one day they will ALL keep their clothes on.

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