The doll was born 9 days early on February 13, 2002 and has been in a hurry to grow up ever since. If you ask her today, as she fights through the storms of puberty, she’ll tell you “I don’t want to grow up” then in the next heart beat she’s putting on make-up with her friends. That dichotomy is at war with both our senses.
9/15/05 While watching The doll swing on our back yard swing set, I noticed how old she looked. Her communication skills have improved tremendously as we are understanding her more and more. My baby, was growing up. We lucked out that the doll had been afraid of falling out of her crib for so long (fear brought on by her brother’s unwanted help no doubt); she didn’t start climbing out until she was almost three. Now we were at the time to wean her from her crib and into a big girl bed. Another step away from babyhood.
“Hey doll, how would you like it if I put this bed into your bedroom?” (While on a recent visit, we placed a twin bed in our living room for which my mother-in-law could sleep. The bed began to resemble a “day” bed/third couch for a spell afterward) I asked her. “Uh, no Mom, this is Grammy’s bed.” she replied. “Yeah, while Grammy visited she slept here, but now it would be your bed…” “But Daddy told me I was getting a “Princess” bed from Santa.” “Well”, I said, “You’ll still get that Princess bed, but, you can use this as a “practice” bed, until you get your new bed.” “No thanks Mom, this is Grammy’s bed, she needs it.” I started thinking this was going to be harder than I thought. “Doll, did you know when the boy was your age, he was already in his big kid bed. In fact, he was younger than you.” I said trying to appeal to her competitive side. All of a sudden, the realization of what was about to happen gripped her. “No Mama, I love my bed, I’m not too big for it, see, I haven’t out grown it!” she said, climbing back into the crib, stretching the long way with her arms stretched out above her. “Honey, you may not be too big size wise, but your old enough to sleep in a big girl bed”. “But Mama”, she said through tears, “I love my bed”. While snuggling with her, I felt like I was traumatizing her beyond belief. Finally, I appealed to her sensible side, “Doll, I know you like to jump on your bed, but I bet if you jump on the new bed, you’ll be able to jump higher. In fact, why don’t you go into the living room and try it”. She wiped her tears and whimpered, “Okay” to me. Moments later she was jumping up and down, giggling.
I moved the crib across the room and began setting up the twin bed in her room. First the bed frame was put together, then the mattress and box spring was brought in and set up. We first tried an “angle” look for the bed, but concluded the bed rail wouldn’t be able to raise and lower. Thinking aloud I said, “I don’t know, I think I’m gonna have to push the bed up against the wall”. Unaware the doll was behind me in the room, she said, “Ok Mommy, push it against the wall, yeah just like that.” She stood off the to the side and made hand motions as if directing traffic. Once the bed was in place, she began jumping up and down on the bed, giggling again. I had a brief moment of regret, in my tactics for getting her to accept this bed, but decided what the heck, they worked. We can work on the bed jumping later. Now the time arrived. The only way I could get the crib out of the room was to dismantle it and was worried what reaction I would get from her. “Now doll, the only way I can get your old crib out of the room is to unscrew it–take it a part”, I said. “Okay Mommy.” she said, in a matter of fact voice. Evidently she was really ready for that big girl bed. Now, I’m sad…she IS growing up.
Since I wrote this piece, the doll has gone through three additional beds. Currently she has bunk beds, inherited when her Grandmother moved back north last summer.
When the doll and I read this-this morning she smiled and asked “Why is this my birthday story? I mean why not tell them about the day I was born (Which is a fun-often told story)?” I smiled and said, “Because I wanted everyone to see how dumb I was back then.” Scrunching her nose she gave me a curious look. “How?” she asked. “When I wrote this you were three and a half years old. I was sad because you were growing up. Today I look at you and see this beautiful young lady (she hates being called a lady), growing tall, facing challenges and learning how to become a young strong independent woman. My beautiful little baby girl will always be growing up-and growing away from me.” I replied, laying it on a bit thick I might add. She stopped what she was doing for a few seconds before saying, “But I will always be your baby girl-that will never change”. I smiled and we hugged, longer than a moment, noting our sincerity.
As we released from our hug I gave her a wry smile and said, “Now let’s see….eleven smacks…” all the while lifting my hand in a mock slap readiness. She giggled, pulling herself to her feet and scooted around me, keeping her rear end facing far away from me and my hands. “Happy Birthday Doll…” I called out to her, giving her a wink-letting her know, her eleven smacks were simply on hold until later.