I remember waiting not so patiently in 1997 as my sex-ed teacher, Marie, told us the terms of our parenting challenge. We were to take care of a doll for one week. And, unless the baby was “napping,” we had to hold and care for them as if they were real.
When Marie lined up nine dolls, I knew that the third from the left was mine. He looked like my own flesh and plastic and suited the name I had been repeating in my mind for months – Taylor. My other classmates weren’t “ready” for their babies, but I had brought my baby bag, filled with new clothes. (Thank you American Girl for making the new modern day dolls so that Taylor didn’t look like an 18th century plantation princess from the South.) I dressed him in overalls and a tie-dye shirt. (Although, I was disappointed that American Girl wasn’t partnered with Tommy Hilfiger. If those overalls had had the TH logo on the straps, Taylor would have been ever cuter.)
I was a bit nervous when I put Taylor to down to sleep that evening. I found myself staring at Taylor’s beautiful rubber skin and marble-like eyes (which may have actually been marbles). The next day, I decided that it would be great to get some support from the other new moms so my mom, Donna, picked up fruit and veggie trays from the grocery store, and we organised a baby play-date. All of my classmates came with their little ones in tow, and we spent the day exchanging stories about our newborns. We were all so thankful to have dodged the stretch marks and hemorrhoids that usually accompany baby-having!
It was amazing how quickly a week went by. But what was even more amazing was my newfound appreciation of a mother’s love. The more time I spent with Taylor, the more I knew that I was simply not going to be able to give him back on Friday. His constant grin fueled my affection and desire to provide for him, forever and always. It was the night before I had to return Taylor to Marie, and I found myself pacing in my room, only stopping to peer over Taylor’s crib aka dresser drawer. The hours flew by and my eyes grew tired from watching him. I must have fallen asleep because I woke up fully clothed and on top of my covers. I quickly brushed my teeth and cradled Taylor in my arms the entire ride to school. It was all happening too fast! I just wanted to freeze time so that I wouldn’t have to lose my doll-child.
So, instead, Donna came through with a wonderful solution. We ended up buying a replacement doll for the school! I was so relieved and ecstatic. I was also positive that I would never be able to foster anything else due to my irreparable attachment issues. I continued to take care of Taylor for another week or so. But then I got a new bike (with pegs!) and soon forgot about him. He hangs out in the attic now. I’m pretty sure he hooked up with Baby-Uh-Oh, but that’s just gossip from my Cabbage Patch Doll.
Here’s a pic of my actual baby, Axel with Doll-Baby Taylor. (In Australia. #separationissues)
This is an edited excerpt from Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did. Get your signed copy from summerlandauthor.com.