I’m sure most of you have read that great article in Mothering Dec 2008 about boys and their dolls. It actually just became available today, which is fantastic timing for this post. I just wanted to write a little bit about how I feel about boys and dolls, from the perspective of a mom with 2 boys with a husband who struggled with it (just a bit- even though he makes the dolls with me!)
Ben mimicing Mama when Jasper gives her a ‘love bite’ while breastfeeding!
There are few things sweeter than your four year old mimicking your mothering on their doll. ‘Tofu’ is breastfed, carried in a sling and buckled into car-seats with much love. I have to admit, it was a slow start to their relationship and it did take some participation on my part . I surprised Ben with Tofu a few days before Jasper was born. ‘Tofu’ was placed under the covers next to Ben before he awoke one morning, Ben saw him and exclaimed ‘Here’s my friend- his name is Tofu’. Benjamin had a hand in creating Tofu, he chose his hair and eye colour, but I’m sure he would have been happy with whatever I’d had given him. I tried to be subtle on how I introduced Tofu, knowing that if I made a big deal out of him Benjamin would most likely be turned off by him. (This is just a character trait in my son, the more excited I am about, lets say, carrots, the less he likes them. I think I’m in for a good time when he’s 14!) So, daily we placed Tofu in bed with Benjamin, took him along with us and every once in a while would place Tofu’s mouth by our ear to hear something that he ‘said’ – like ‘Tofu likes when you snuggle him at night, he gets lonely sometimes and needs a friend to cuddle’ – this was really effective. Ben loved to hear what secrets Tofu would tell us and soon he’d tell us things that Tofu would whisper in his ear. It took about a month of doing this but then the relationship just took off. Benjamin started to do all those things that I’d read about children doing with their dolls. Tofu took on a life of his own – he plays cars with him, sleeps with him and goes on adventures. Its incredible to watch the relationship develop and see your child’s imagination soar. This time is so precious and fleeting, I think encouraging imagination is one of the best gifts a parent can give their children.
Little C and his boys!
Tofu has also been of great comfort to Ben. The wool that he is stuffed with smells like home (wool absorbs smell) so when we take trips to Nonna’s house in Vancouver the transition is smooth. If Ben is upset, Tofu is usually the first thing he grabs and is almost immediately calmed just by giving him a snuggle. I’ve seen Ben ask Tofu to please finish his dinner, using all the language that we use with Ben. We watch Ben treat and talk to Tofu as we do to our children. Renata wrote this to me when she received her boys dolls..
What a surprise – boys do love dolls too!!!!! It brought tears to my eyes when they opened the box and immediately started to care and parenting the little dolls. It’s nice to see them interacting with the dolls because we realize what they appreciate in our parenting…my older one says to the doll:”Thanks for being who you are”,,,,exactly like we say to him….and it makes me happy to see that he passes it on to his “child”.
E and his doll.
Re reading this, I realize that this post is just about children and their dolls – not just boys and dolls. It does seem to be a special thing to see the boy/doll relationship develop though. Perhaps because of social conditioning, perhaps because boys (well mine anyhow) seem to have an innate love for all things mechanical. It just feels as though as a mom I am doing something right here, nurturing a sensitivity that sometimes gets overlooked with our little guys and perhaps helping to make my little man into a great daddy someday.