Pudding’s American Girl doll came back to us this week, following a brief stay in hospital. Did you know there was a hospital for dolls? I remember reading stories about dolly hospital when I was a girl, though no such thing existed back then.
So, shortly after Pudding cropped Kelly’s hair, I discovered that for about 1/3 of the cost of a new doll, we could send her to hospital to be made good as new. That was the easy part.
The hard part was deciding if that was the right course of action. If the doll could be fixed, would Pudding ever learn the consequences of her actions? Would she just do the same thing all over again. I didn’t know the answer to that, so I decided to let Future Me decide.
Over the following weeks, Pudding’s interest in her doll dwindled to nothing. She went from playing with her all the time, to discarding her completely. It seems like a big part of her interest in the doll was her hair. I don’t know to what extent that was because it made her “pretty” or because she enjoyed the tactile sensation of the hair. It doesn’t really matter.
What mattered to me was that a source of play had gone from her life. Some might say that the way Pudding played with her favourite doll- changing her diaper and dressing her up- was repetitive, a hallmark of her autism spectrum disorder. I would say that she played in a way that made her feel comfortable. In a challenging, confusing, and out-of-control world, Kelly was hers, she’d earned her, and she played with her just the way she wanted.
So then all the clothes and accessories that relatives had bought Pudding for Christmas went unused too. There was not only a emotional investment, but a financial one too. That very pragmatic reason, is what prompted me to finally check Kelly into hospital.
Or so I told myself. I knew the real truth as we watched her open the box to find her friend complete with pigtails and hospital gown.
Do you see that smile?
That is why.
Sorry, she was moving too fast to get any good ones, but you can definitely see the glee.
I’d do just about anything for that smile. Even run the risk of another hair-cutting incident. She adores the gown, her new pinktails, the little get well soon card that came with it. Most of all, she is happy to have her doll back. Her real doll, not the short-haired imposter she couldn’t play with.
Pudding is incredibly lucky in that she comes from an advantaged family who can afford to replace a doll. Goodness knows there is a settlement a little further on from her new school with kids living in shacks without water or electricity. American Girl dolls are from an entirely different world.
She is growing up learning that we need to help out others who aren’t so fortunate. Whatever challenges our family might face, they pale into insignificance compared with the way others are struggling.
We’re incredibly lucky in that we get to see that smile. We get to connect with her, share in her enthusiasm, and see her happy-flappy joy. Oh, I know how fortunate we are!
Pudding will always be an American Girl, just one growing up with a wider view of the world.