Saturday, November 29, 2008

Two Loves

Last year for Christmas, Abigail got her first real baby doll. She was a Cabbage Patch newborn, so she was the perfect size for Abigail's toddler arms. Plus, she smelled strongly, perfectly, of baby powder. The scent has faded over the last year, but it is still there when you hold her closely and inhale deeply. Her name is Baby Haley. She always is both names, not just "Haley."

My parents got her for Abigail, or maybe it was Santa. I know who picked her out very carefully, but I don't remember whose name was on the tag. They spent the night at our house Christmas Eve, and we all got the joy of seeing Abigail get up Christmas morning. It was probably the first time she really started to "get" Christmas morning. She and Memaw had made cookies with sprinkles for Santa the night before. When Paul carried her out of her room, she looked down by the tree and saw a perfect little baby asleep in a little wooden cradle. She yelled "A BABY DOLL!" and literally would have jumped straight out of Paul's arms if he had not set her wriggly body down. She loved her immediately, as any good mother does, from the first time she laid eyes on her.

Baby Haley has slept with Abigail every night since December 25, 2007, with the exception of a couple of nights she was accidentally left behind at Memaw and Papa's house. Abigail is faithful to give her bottles and change her diaper when we can find it. Baby Haley has been a wonderful first baby doll to Abigail. Abigail has been a wonderful mommy to Baby Haley.

Until Thanksgiving, 2008, that is.

My mom suggested that I go down to the basement at their house and pull out the boxes labeled "Amy's stuffed animals." We didn't save every toy from my childhood, but we did save two boxes worth of dolls and stuffed animals. Oh, and all the Strawberry Shortcake dolls which mom had already sent home with Abigail this summer. Mom was remembering a Pound Puppy I had named Wrinkles....we thought anyway....Wrinkles ended up being a different dog than our memories served. So I went down to search for Wrinkles.

I pulled out many forgotten little creatures from my childhood days. They were there, in some of the deepest corners of my mind. I remember my little dog, Nipper, that was given to me the night before I had my tonsels removed in first grade. He stayed by my side through the whole surgery. I remember a Little Red Riding Hood doll, who was just plain awesome. One end of her was Little Red. When you flipped her over and pulled the dress over her head, the other end of her bore the face of the grandmother on one side and the Big Bad Wolf on the other. I remembered Wrinkles, the big gray puppet dog and the brown Pound Puppy who we thought was named Wrinkles.

There were four Cabbage Patch Kids. Sasha, who was my first with brown pig tails. Terri Noel, who was a newborn with a tuft of blond yarn hair, but a much bigger newborn than Abigail's Baby Haley. And another girl with brown pig tails who I don't remember at all. And there was my brother's, named Terrence, who we loved to tease him about. A lot of boys had Cabbage Patch Kids back in their hay day, though, right? We decided to wash them all, as I was pretty sure at some point in the last 20 years of storage, a mouse or six might have taken up a little residence down there in the basement with them. I figured if they fall apart, well, they are over 20 years old, and I can still have my fuzzy memories. If they don't fall apart, Abigail can have several new babies to play house with.

I introduced Abigail to Baby Terri Noel, who looks like a bigger, blonder version of Baby Haley. She took to her immediately. She brought her home and has slept with her the last two nights. Yesterday morning, she handed Baby Haley off to me, saying I could take care of her. Gasp! Was she really going to toss Baby Haley aside so quickly now that a new baby had worked her way into Abigail's arms?

Yes. I think she was.

I told her that she could love both babies, and that Baby Haley would still need hugs and kisses and loves. Paul explained to her that when a mommy gets a new baby in her house, she doesn't stop loving the first one. She can love them both. Abigail held out her arm with a sigh, as if to say, "Ugh, fine. Give her here." I guess within the first few days of a new baby in the home, one has to take priority in her mind. Later in the day, I said, "It's okay. I guess I'll just take care of Baby Haley and give her hugs and loves and kisses since you won't."

To this, Abigail screamed "NO!" and grabbed Baby Haley away from me. "I'll take care of her."

And she has. Today, she played nicely with both babies. She hugged them both, kissed them both, loved them both. Maybe this will work. Maybe I shoudln't be so sensitive over which doll she plays with. But there is something special about your first doll, right? I just didn't want to see her replaced to quickly. A mom CAN love two babies, right?

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