when f was almost one, i started searching high and low for a baby doll that, while being cute and snuggly and ideally easy to clean, would not spend the next 400 years off-gassing toxic fumes. i finally found one that met all of my criteria, and "little baby" joined our family at christmas in 2007. f was ecstatic and little baby quickly became a constant in our lives. and now, two years of serious love later, little baby is no longer a looker. i mean, she's got a sweet face, but she has developed a lazy eye and her cloth body is, how do i say this? deflated? it's deflated. she's got a permanent tattoo scribbled onto her forehead. she's dingy. in other words, she is well loved.
little baby is f's favorite. like, if purple baby, big baby, happy baby, green baby, prairie dawn and jo jo were going to have a cage match, f would absolutely put her money on little baby. little goes with us when we travel, little bathes with f, little swims in the sink and the wading pool, and more often than not, little baby gets to sleep with f. and f's love of little baby, her sweet sweet adoration, her mauling touches and gentle swaddles and sleepy snuggles - it has all helped me to fall in love with little baby too. i love her for what she does for f. she is my favorite too, lazy eye be damned. little baby is awesome. so when little baby got some heat in f's classroom not too long ago, i felt myself getting a little defensive.
let me backtrack a smidge. fridays are f's "share days", where she gets to bring something from home to share with her class. and f LOVES share day. we play share day a lot at home: f spies something interesting, then brings it over to where i'm sitting, tucks it behind my back, and instructs me to say "boys and girls, i have something to share!" at which point, as i start to repeat it, she will interrupt me to remind her friends to "be quiet, we need to put our listening ears on!" no matter if there are no friends in sight. her stuffed animals, chastened, do tend to STFU and listen. so we play share day, and we take turns sharing things, and sometimes we are allowed to touch the things she wants to share and sometimes, we are not. f loves share day, and i love it with her because she loves it so much.
the idea with share day is, ostensibly, the kids are supposed to bring something to share that coincides with whatever unit they are working on for those two weeks ("brown! the letter N! rectangles!") but from day one, f's share toy has been little baby more often than not. at first, she was open to alternating. like one week she might get a wild hair and bring happy baby instead, or even - get this! - green baby. but i think for the last 7 or 8 weeks running, f has brought little baby as her share toy every friday. sometimes i do try to encourage another choice, as in "hey love, what about your brown bear? or your pinwheel?" but she is just not having it. and i don't push it because frankly: it doesn't bother me in the least, i think it's kinda cute, and it's just not a battle worth having.
so last friday when i picked f up, we had some hugs and then she walked across the room to go get little baby out of the share box. and while she was over there across the room, her friend k walked up to me with her hands on her hips and said "you know, she ALWAYS brings that baby." i think chuckled a little and said, "yep, she sure loves that baby!" to which k repeated herself, "BUT SHE BRINGS IT EVERY WEEK." i said "i know, she really loves it! she wants to bring it with her, every week. you're right about that." at which point k crossed her arms over her chest, looked me right in the eye and said "i'm annoying with that baby."
"you're annoyed with it? with little baby?" i said, suppressing a giggle.
"YES," (you idiot! her look said) "I AM ANNOYING WITH THAT BABY!"
and for a second, i really didn't know what to say! "well, you don't have to play with it, then. you can just ignore it, i guess..." was what i think i said to her. i mean, she was pissed! and i was caught off guard, and that was the best i could come up with. and with that, she stomped off. and then f came skipping up to me, little baby in the crook of her arm, all smiles and blissfully ignorant of the exchange that had just transpired. "let's go, mama!"
so, we did.