When I was a little kid -- many years before I started kindergarten (well, it couldn’t be too many years, I guess) -- I had doll I named Johnsie. (The s is pronounced like a z. I was too young to spell, but still . . . .) I remember Johnsie’s weight, the substantial solidity of a rubber doll in the pre-plastic days. I recall dragging him around the house. Most vividly, I remember my rule that only my father and I could hold Johnsie. (I don’t recall anyone else every trying to touch him, but that only shows how powerful I was, right?) Putting Freud and my great affection for my father aside, Johnsie was the only doll I remember being deeply attached to. Sure there was a Besty-Wetsy that I got when I was sick in bed for a week with the flu. I don’t think I ever played with her after. There was the lone Barbie that denoted submission to peer pressure. I must have played with her, but I have no memory of it.
No, Johnsie was the important one, for a few years at least. He was replaced when I was seven by a blue and white elephant my dad got me when I had my tonsils out. I named the elephant Pillow because I buried my nose in him like a pillow to erase the lingering smell of ether. I loved Pillow, and I slept with him every night until I traded him in for my husband.
Now despite the classic book, William’s Doll, it seems to me that it’s little girls that like dollies. (Little boys like stuffed animals and action figures which are NOT dolls, not really.) Girls -- despite my own example -- generally like girl dollies. They like to mother them and feed them, teach them and put them to bed.
So here’s what I don’t understand. Given a choice, a little girl picks a doll in a frilly dress, the pinker, the better. She gets her home, and what’s the first thing she does? The first thing she does is take the clothes off the doll. And does she want you to help her put them back on? No, she does not. What she wants to do is take that naked dolly by one leg and drag it around the house. Why is that? Why? The child may ask you to wrap the dolly up in a blanket, but does she want help dressing her? No. I’ve never seen it, not once. It’s so odd; girls like their dolls naked.
Although, now that I think about it, big girls like naked playmates, too. (Hmm, sometimes these posts don’t end up quite the way I plan.)