My baby girl Ro, loves her doll. It is perpetually naked, and the fabric that joins the body to both legs is ripped and frayed but just like the Velveteen Rabbit, love has made her real and she is precious. The doll goes everywhere with us and over and over people ask Roseline the same question, “What is your doll’s name?”
“Baby,” Ro responds.
“Baby? She does not have a name?” They ask.
“Her name is BABY!” comes the reply.
And Ro loves her Baby.
One night last week as I was taking the braids out of Roseline’s hair, I looked down to find Baby sitting in front of Roseline, just as she was sitting in front of me. Roseline was happily working on Baby’s hair too. Never mind the fact that Baby is utterly and completely bald! It didn’t bother Ro a bit. She would simply pretend to rub hair lotion on the doll’s head and then lay beads and elastics on top.
“I just p-tending Mommy. I just p-tending,” she replied.
A few days later, Baby was along for our trip to the grocery. Little Mama strapped Baby into an extra booster seat beside her and when we arrived at the market she took her out, wrapped her in a blanket and cradled her carefully in her arms. As we walked across the parking lot, I looked down and smiled at the sight.
“You are a good Mommy, you know that?” I said. Then, I thought for a moment and asked, “Roseline, do you remember who gave Baby to you?”
She looked startled as if it had never occured to her that Baby was not always there. “No,” she said.
I picked her up and said, “Daddy and I gave Baby to you for your first Christmas home with us. I wanted you to come home for Christmas so much, but that Fall things were going badly with the adoption and it did not look like it was going to happen. Then, one day I decided I was going to believe that you were coming home for Christmas no matter what. So, I went to the computer and looked for a present for you. When I found that doll, I knew it was the one and I ordered it. By the time it came in the mail, things were going even worse but I said again, ‘I believe she will be home for Christmas!’ so, I went upstairs, wrapped the doll in Christmas wrapping paper and put it under the tree.”
Roseline grinned and hugged Baby tighter asI swallowed down the tears and hugged her tighter too.
I’m not sure how much longer Baby is going to make it. The fabric attached to her legs is tearing more each day but if the day comes when I find it neccesary to slip an identical replacement in Roseline’s bed while she sleeps, I know where the origninal will go. I will tuck her away in the bottom of the hope chest at the end of my bed, because somewhere along the way she became real to me too.