When Kate was here last month she did a lot of plowing through her childhood stuff — Well, to be truthful, that doesn’t really describe what happened. She lovingly looked through boxes of books and toys she’d collected in her first 18 years, and household items like linen napkins and unused potholders that had been passed down to her from her grandmother. She had in mind the usual sorting categories of Keep, Give, and Toss.
With her wedding fast approaching, it blessed me that she took the time to enjoy the task. She hasn’t lived in our house for many years, but she was remembering what she said was a very rich childhood, surrounded with so many books which she always knew were part of the household because they had some value. This made the finding of a book worth reading much more likely than if she looked in a bookstore or library.
Of course I find my children fascinating, and this peek into Kate’s memories interested me because it revealed that the development of her love for books and reading had an aspect I hadn’t even thought about. I was also pleased because it was a part of a success story. (I’m thankful that my kids don’t tell me about all the failings that I can’t change at this point.)
Kate used to collect dual-language dictionaries, even for languages she didn’t plan to study anytime soon, like this Japanese one above. And she had an assortment of dolls, most of which she has now bestowed on me to do with what I like.
I’ve been trying to figure out why grown women often like dolls and play with them, in adultish ways of course. Is it because we miss our children who have grown up? I find it hard to turn down a doll who needs a home, the way some people can’t say no to cats or dogs. I have a drawer full of dolls that I want to make new clothes for or mend in some way, and a suitcase full of really old broken dolls that belonged to our mothers and which I am even now gathering the will power and good sense to get rid of.
But I am quite thrilled to suddenly have so many new doll children who still have a lot of life in them. Before I decide how to distribute them, which ones to let the grandchildren play with, etc., I had to do something about the stink they had acquired by sitting in a plastic container for years.
I set them out in the hot sun for a couple of days, and that did the trick. Maybe they didn’t even need the sunshine; perhaps the fresh air would have been enough therapy. But the ones with faces look happy enough to get the full outdoor experience.
I used to love to read the Raggedy Ann and Andy stories to my children. Probably getting to know the personalities of the storybook dolls and following their secret adventures has contributed to my feelings about dolls generally. I can imagine that Kate’s dolls, over the years that they were ignored in that corner of the house, were sneaking out of their box and into the book boxes nearby to have fun improving their little minds. It sounds like something my children would do.