Henry’s current object of affection is one of his sister’s cast-off baby dolls. Her name is “My Baby” and Henry sleeps with her, puts her down for naps, checks on her, reports on her well-being and carries her all around the house. He insists that My Baby is swaddled (which his brilliant mother made the mistake of showing him) because he doesn’t like it when My Baby is cold.
I love that Henry loves My Baby. A younger, less-evolved, pedestrian or narrow-minded me might worry that his love of dolls might somehow endanger his future boyhood, potentially setting him up for a life of ridicule or hurt. Luckily, however, I find his fascination fascinating. I embrace and encourage it because I hope that if we allow him to nurture, cuddle and care-take now, he will always be this way. (His daddy, for instance, always had a strong affinity for stuffed animals. One night when he was six, he put the animals to bed and put a lit lamp under the covers with the them so they wouldn’t be frightened in the dark. His family discovered what he’d done when they smelled the smoke from his flaming mattress.) Hubby never lost that trait—the nurturing, not the fire-starting—and my children and I reap the benefits of his caring nature daily.
So, I proudly shout it from my bog—
“A doll, a doll, Henry has a doll!!” (Just like William did in the 1970s in Free To Be You and Me; props to Marlo Thomas and Alan Alda).
Henry loves that doll. Just today, while I got him ready for his nap, he handed me My Baby and her blanket, and said “My Baby no wanna be cold, Mommy.” So as I reswaddled her, again, I told Henry how glad I was that he loved My Baby. And he said,
“It’s not Your Baby, Mommy. Is My Baby.”
(Ok, so we have some work to do on pronouns.) I put My Baby into bed with Henry and he cuddled up with her beneath his covers, so happy he was for My Baby to rejoin him. What a sweet, sweet boy. And his doll.