My parents are cleaning out their basement, and finding all sorts of my things that were packed away. One of the things they brought up to me was a baby doll that was one of my first dolls as a toddler. They gave it to Baby A, since M has the majority of the dolls and will not part with them.
A has decided that this is her new best friend. She toddles around, carrying the baby with her everywhere, cooing and laughing. Periodically she stops, stares intently at the doll’s face, and gives it a sloppy kiss before walking on. At one point, A was walking along with her arms extended, head thrown back, a huge smile, doll in one hand, plastic chicken leg in the other. It was clearly Toy Nirvana.
When A went to bed, I was cleaning up toys and picked up the doll. I hadn’t seen it in about twenty years, but it looked basically the same as I remembered it, and still in remarkably good condition. It’s strange, this little doll, not so different than any other, brought back such a rush of cozy memories. I remember sitting on the heat vent by the window in winter, snuggling the doll. I remember tucking it into my mom’s homemade doll cradle with my other dolls, playing with it with my friends, and learning to read by struggling through simple books in front of an attentive pile of dolls and stuffed animals. I remember my mother telling me about how my grandma gave it to me. I remember how comfortable is was to be in my room, how safe it felt. I’m glad my parents found it, in the hopes that it will bring the same joy and comfort to Baby A.
Someday, I know, I’ll have to pack M and A’s toys away. M already is turning into the most amazing person, though she’s torn between wanting to stay a little girl and growing into new hobbies and friends. She’s getting grown up teeth, report cards, homework and Girl Scouts badges, going to slumber parties, riding bikes with the neighbors. Yet she still loves to play with Baby A and her toys, and I can see how safe it feels to her. And in no time at all, Baby A will be doing the same, while her big sister heads to middle school. Eventually all those dolls and blocks and little books will be packed away; it makes me sad to think about it.
Still, maybe someday I’ll unpack those boxes and pull out this little doll with curly hair and yellow pajamas and hand it to A’s baby, and tell her a story about how her mama used to carry it around, singing and trying to feed it fake chicken. How a little girl stood in a warm house and watched the snow falling outside, doll pressed to her chest, and how her big sister brushed her hair while she, in turn, held the doll on her lap. About how many memories can be packed into something so simple.