Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The doll

Due to a fractured childhood that saw the disappearance of both of my parents by the age of 7, life with this Nana, and an eventual group home stint, I have very little of the memorabilia of childhood. One of the dolls I cherished as a child was my Cabbage Patch Kid, Cora Deanna. She was one of the early dolls, a pretty little thing with light brown yarn hair and a sweet-smelling face. Oh, how I loved her. As a child I was compulsive about keeping her clean and tidy, with her original outfit, her original hair ribbons, even her original diaper. As I grew a older I played with her less and less, as kids do, eventually leaving her on prominent display on my shelf.

My Nana was not known for sentimentality. Although I wasn't a child with a tremendous amount of toys, I came home one day when I was about ten or eleven years old to find her packing up a few precious toys and dolls.
I may not have played with my doll anymore, but I certainly didn't want to part with her. However, no amount of pleading would change my Nana's mind, and off went my beloved Cora Deanna.

A little while ago we started to notice that Peanut had a lot of interest in dolls. For her birthday we bought her an inexpensive doll, which she seemed really enthused with... for about 10 minutes. The doll was a little large and heavy, and we started to realize that she couldn't really pull it around with her. Remembering how much I had loved my doll, I started to toy with the idea of getting her a Cabbage Patch Kid, preferably with her same birth date. I scoured the shops, only to find that the new Cabbage Patch Kids were ugly. Hideous in fact. Streaked hair, "hip" clothing, "messy" wipe-away faces. Ick! These were not the dolls I remembered.

I decided that I would try to find an older, retro doll on eBay. A few clicks here, a search term there, and I was presented with an assortment of retro Cabbage Patch Kids. And then I found her...

The infamous Cora Deanna

Cora Deanna. Oh sure, she had a different name on her birth certificate, but she was my doll. The same hair and eyes, the same outfit right down to the shoes. She even had her original hair ribbons! I showed her to Mr Babbler, excited for him to finally see the doll I had told him about so many times. He told me to just go ahead and bid on it. Buy the damn doll he said, reclaim a part of your childhood.

I hesitated. The doll itself wasn't that expensive, but the shipping cost was going to be more than the doll. A wasteful extravagance. In the end, after much prodding, I went ahead and put in my bid and bought the doll.

A few weeks later she showed up, in brand-new condition in her original box. I pulled her out while Peanut was napping, stroked her hair and then set her on the back of the sofa, glancing at her periodically throughout the rest of the afternoon. While I knew that she wasn't my original doll, it still felt like I had a piece of my childhood back.

When Peanut came downstairs after her nap, she made a beeline for the sofa, having spotted the doll. She jumped up and down and attempted to hurl herself on the sofa. I pulled down Cora Deanna, sure that her interest would be fleeting, as is generally the case at her age. Surprisingly, it hasn't been. Mr Babbler suggested I take Cora Deanna upstairs, and tuck her away. But, you see, I can't.

The joy of recapturing parts of my childhood, those moments and things that I lost, and those moments and things that I never had, doesn't lie in having them for myself, but in being able to offer them to my Peanut. It's in giving her the things and opportunities and experiences that I never had (within reason, of course, so as to not spoil her) and seeing her obvious delight. In knowing that in 10 years, in 20 years, I'll be able to pull her favorite toys out of storage for her to pass along to her children, in being able to share those memories with her - memories of her first steps, her favorite past time, our special routines, and the trips we took as a family - so she can carry them with her into her own family.

And so now I get the pleasure of the return of a beloved childhood item, but more importantly, I get the giddy pleasure of watching Peanut with her doll. This doll, that I loved so much as a child, now her beloved Cora Deanna, who she grabs by the leg and drags around the living room, whose hair she plays with and diaper she scrunches, w
ho she solemnly gives kisses to when asked. Who she grabs in a big hug, arms wrapped tight around her soft body. And that is a far better feeling then merely having an item on a shelf.

Mummy, get your hands away from my doll!


painted maypole said...

so sweet.

my mother has brought over boxes of my old toys that I thought were long gone, and now MQ plays with them. It really is great. Keeping a few of her favorite things is a wonderful idea.

and you. sharing your doll. you good mama.

nomotherearth said...

A happy ending. I love it.

SciFi Dad said...

While I still have both my parents, I too have few memorabilia from my childhood (a combination of a primary teacher mother who took all my stuff for her classroom and a father who couldn't stand "all this junk").

This is part of the reason I am "re-accumulating" some of the toys I loved as a kid... my in-laws think I'm a freak at xmas when I open an retro action figure and get all excited, but I don't care.

Suzanne said...

What a touching story. I feel both sad for your 11-year-old self, losing a precious toy, and happy for your adult self, who gets to pass on this doll to your daughter.

Suz said...

I'm so glad you found this way to bring happiness to yourself and your daughter. But, like Suzanne, I'm sad for your 11-year-old self. No little girl should be asked to give up her dolls.

Emily R said...

It is interesting, isn't it, how healing it can be to raise our kids with the childhood we did not have? She is lucky, lucky indeed.

Don Mills Diva said...

That was a beautiful post - even more so because I went back and read the one about your Nana. You are a wonderful writer and a remarkable woman. Congratulations on providing for your child much of what you were denied.

Mac and Cheese said...

I'm so happy that you were able to find the exact doll, but mostly I am amazed that you seem to be so well adjusted after all you have been through.

bubandpie said...

What a piercing post. And Cora Deanna seems like just the right name for a doll.

Candygirlflies said...

Oh, my word, B*... You and I had exactly the same doll, except that the name mine came with was Lucette Deirdre!

My mother was obsessive about keeping all our toys, and I am so delighted to be able to watch my three girlies play with them.

This was a wonderful story. Thanks!

xo CGF

crazymumma said...

Babbler. With the mood I am in you have me near blubbering.

I reread your Nana post. She was a tough one.

Lisa b said...

oh what a sweet pair they are.
ebay is wicked. I cannot believe what you can find on there. To find your Cora is just so wonderful.
I was the same with my dolls - always trying to keep them 'perfect'. what a waste. I want my girls to drool all over their toys.

kittenpie said...

Ah, you have me all teary. I am so glad you found her! And so glad, too, that you see it as something you can let go of for you by letting your girl share in it. because yeah, there are plenty of people who couldn't have taken her out of the box.

Anonymous said...

Oh, what a heartwarming story. I'm a totally sentimental marshmallow.

And CP dolls are tough - there's no need to put her up anyway.


Aliki2006 said...

This was wonderful! I'm glad you found the doll, too, and that you can pass her on to your little peanut. You're right--much better for her to get to play with her, than to look at her sitting up on a shelf.

caramama said...

You have inspired me to go through my parent's storage room and find my old Cabbage Patch Kid dolls for the Pumpkin! I am very fortunate that my mom kept all our favorite toys for us in the hopes that one day we would want them for our kids. I will now prove her right in being sentimental.

Thanks for sharing this story. You are a great mama! :)

Ms. Porter said...

I love this story, I love that you found Cora Deanna on eBay (or one just like her).


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