I love toys. I’ve been collecting them, loving them, dressing them, and destroying them for years. When I was a baby, my older brother gave me a stuffed bear and rabbit. And then proceeded to take them for himself. I didn’t mind at the time, as I was more interested in dust motes and my feet. But it wasn’t long before I was paying attention to my toys, specifically my dolls. I had all sorts of dolls, but let’s start with the most famous.
The Cabbage Patch Kids
My mother happened to like dolls as well, so I got a lot of them. I’m sure you remember the Cabbage Patch craze, yes? If not, go check out Angie’s blog which will mess with your mind until you scream make it stop, make it stop! Anyway, though at first these arguably ugly dolls were hard to come by, eventually I ended up with like a dozen of the things. I loved those stupid dolls. Not that I remember any of their names oh yes I do. There were Irv, Janie, Dolly (she went to Spain!), Andrew (bald), Britney and Beth (twins!), Amber (a “preemie” with one tuft of hair in the middle of an otherwise bald head), Patti (with cornsilk hair, not yarn!), Laura (a “baby” that was somehow smaller than the “preemie”) and a few others. I liked these dolls so much I even wrote my first stories about them when I was like eight. They were still better than what E.L. James can write now, which is very, very sad.
Anyway, these dolls were special because unlike the rip-offs, they had official adoption papers so you could get your name printed on a doll birth certificate. You could also change their names, which clearly I did, because their original names were stuff like Pukenose Prunella. Well, except for Irv, because somehow no other name would fit that weird little doll, my very first who was acquired through a daycare center. I have no idea why they had them. Anyway, you could also tell they were authentic by looking at their butts. No, really. They had the signature of the artist (Xavier Roberts) on their behinds, which seems like an odd place to put it looking back on that now. But still, you can bet we girls were opening up those diapers and making sure they were legit.
You can’t just have Cabbage Patch Kids and no equipment, though, are you mad? I had a swing, a playpen, a baby snuggie, a high chair, a car seat, a stroller, and lots of diapers for invisible poop. Now there are dolls that will make real simulated poop in their diapers, but thankfully I never had one of those. Thing Two does have a Baby Alive doll that demands that she feed it bananas 24/7 and it annoys her to no end. “Mommy, she always wants something!” Yes, dear, how tiring that must be for you. But back to me. I was very serious about being a pretend Mommy. I took good care of my children. Except when I forgot them overnight in the backyard. Or a friend drew on them. Or I lost all of their clothes. Or the sewing making their bottom cracks came undone (solved the diapering problem, though).
I also wanted to be a teacher from a young age. Because children are stupid (no offense to teachers, but that is an incredibly hard job when the children are animate, I discovered). My parents both worked for the school system, so I knew a lot about what teachers did. They had grade books, and attendance books. I created both in spiral notebooks. I also created seating charts. Not that I was a particularly anal child or anything like that. I lined the dolls up in rows – sometimes you had to work hard to get them to sit up right. Occasionally someone would get sick and I’d toss them aside and mark them absent. My grading policy was simple. The prettiest dolls got the best grades, and the ugly ones (like, say, those Flower Kid ripoffs) failed big time. So you know, just like real life.
There were some Cabbage Patch Kids I didn’t have. For one thing, my twins were not the “official” twins that came two to a box and for some reason cost ten times as much as just buying two dolls that looked similar. Which is what my mother did. I had a fascination for identical twins, so I often had two of the exact same doll which my brother thought was really dumb. Like, what did he know? All his GI Joes looked the same to me. Another doll came with a stuffed horse she could ride. I never got that one. Again, parents weren’t feeling the love there.
Most of my friends also had these dolls, and they played together. One of my friends, who goes by Ravin here because she thinks she’s a bird but can’t spell it right, was never given a Cabbage Patch Kid because her mother thought they were lame. Which they were. But then her younger sisters (some of those fascinating identical twins, although these twins would jump from trees like crazed ninjas and try to kick you) got Cabbage Patch dolls, and one could say she was pretty pissed. So at 12, she bought one, even though she really wasn’t into dolls by then, just because she could. And later one of said twins gutted it and made it into a flour baby for school. She still hasn’t entirely forgiven that sister.
My Cabbage Patch Kids are still around, up in my parent’s attic somewhere. I think some of them might have gotten their legs chewed off by mice. And they started making the CPKs again, in an effort to snare parents raised in the 80s, as if we’d be that dumb oh yes of course we would. But it wasn’t the same. For one thing, these new dolls are somehow even uglier than the ones we had as kids. Or maybe that’s just my nostalgia talking.
So tell me about you. Did you grow up in the 80s (or thereabouts)? Did you have some of these stupid dolls? Did you want one but your parents were big meanies? Did you have another favorite? Or were you like Thing One, who thinks baby dolls are like, yuck, cause who would want to pretend to be a mom? That’s freaking hard.
Let me know in the comments below.
Bonus: Obama Kid and other representations of presidential candidates were apparently auctioned off for charity in 2008 according to the Seattle Times.