Tuesday, October 11, 2016

My Childhood Baby Alive

My granddaughter Maddie feeding Beso, one of her Baby Alive dolls.

I loved playing with dolls growing up just as passionately as my granddaughter Maddie loves playing with her three Baby Alive dolls. One of these dolls can poop after being fed through her mouth little morsels of clay food. This doll who she calls Lily has a hole at her bottom where the food exits. Her other doll is named Beso. She can be fed water through her mouth which ends up down into the preemie diapers or a small diaper fitted for her bottom. The third doll, Twinkle Twinkle, talks of wanting to be changed, of missing her mother etc.  It cannot be fed and has a permanent diaper the front of which can be flipped open.

Baby Alive dolls.  Left to right, Lily, Beso and Twinkle Twinkle
When I was growing up, I baby sat my baby sister who was seven years younger than me.  I would swing the duyan or cradle made of wicker that hanged from the corners of the room.  I did this chore because I had a goal.  My mother promised a doll that could close and open her eyes as my reward.  And so one day we went downtown and went to an Indian bazaar.  I was hoping for that doll to be bought but instead I got a doll that had stationary eyes. I think my mother got distracted by the bric a bracs in the store and used the rest of the money to buy them.

When I was four years old, I was given a large true blue American doll by the godmother of a cousin who was the same age as myself.  I forgot already if she could close her eyes but it did not matter she was life sized and beautiful. And she was "stateside" as we called things imported from the United States a quality coveted by Filipinos.  I called this doll Boots as suggested by my mother. I played with Boots morning, noon and night to the point a mean older cousin warned me that I would get pregnant if I continued playing with Boots all day.   I got scared and I played less frequently with my tall stateside doll.

The doll I really wanted is one that I could feed water to just like what one can do with Maddie's Baby Alive doll, Beso. Since I was not successful getting the doll that closes her eyes I gave up asking my mother for a doll that I could feed water.  I was very resourceful and decided to make my own doll that could do this while on vacation at my maternal grandmother Lola Sefa's house in Quezon City where she lived with her two unmarried daughters, Titas Awing and Eyang and an unmarried son, Tito Emong.

I folded and rolled into a cylinder a dark grey bath towel that my Tito Emong owned from when he was serving in the army and safety pinned the towel in place.  It resulted in a burrito like creature of a doll.  Using my Tita Awing's red nail polish I painted two eyes, a nose and most importantly a mouth on the uppermost part of this baby towel burrito.  I was in heaven when water from a baby bottle was absorbed by this towel doll.

A reproduction of my towel burrito doll I created recently with my granddaughter Maddie. She insisted we made it when I told her about my towel doll.  She fed this replica with water and was impressed it "drank" it.  This fascination was shortlived.  She immediately turned to feed Beso her doll who pees with the liquid exiting into the disposable diaper which she can change. 

I do not think I gave it a name.  One day I was looking for it and found it in the bodega or storage room. My Tita Awing hid it there from me since I developed rashes on my arms from carrying the wet doll around. The burrito doll was full of germs from days of being wet. My aunt consoled me by buying me a doll but it did not drink water and I barely played with it. I missed my towel burrito doll.

My desire to have a doll that excretes bodily waste did not end with preschool years.  When I got to be in grade school, I had a classmate Dulce who talked about having dolls of all kinds that could walk, talk and also poop. One day she brought me to her house which was walking distance from the school we attended. Sadly she could not produce the pooping doll but she consoled me by showing one of her dolls sort of walk with her guidance. Her doll's legs were manipulated by Dulce. I went home disappointed.

When I see my granddaughter spend hours talking to her Baby Alive dolls coaxing them to eat and drink and then catch the waste, I could not help think, would I have been happier owning these dolls rather than my towel burrito doll? Probably but then I would have missed lessons in resourcefulness and never giving up on your dreams no matter how small they were.

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