My daughter says about fifty words. It’s kind of cheating to say it is fifty as many of those words would be indecipherable to a layperson. Cookies are cokecokes, ducks are wakwaks. Baby, however, is a word she can say clearly. When we walk down the street she points at any kid in a stroller, whether younger or older and says, “baby”.
She now points at the TV and yells, “baby”, too. This means she wants us to go on to YouTube and find home movie clips of babies doing trivial things. I used to think YouTube was an amazing invention where I could look up any old Folgers TV commercial that came to mind, but now that I have been led down this wormhole of babies eating, babies laughing, and babies being driven through tunnels, I realize the website can drain your soul one uploaded clip of parental narcissism at a time.
Fortunately, our daughter has other things in the house she can point at and call “baby”. She has dolls. One of which has been a point of contention in our home. I first learned of her existence when I came out of the bathroom and my Love Interest told me, “We got a new doll.”
When I saw her I started cracking up.
“What’s so funny?” she asked.
It was one of those dolls that you feed a bottle which makes it spit up the water and pee and then you’re supposed to change her, with the diapers being sold separately. But that ridiculousness is not what had me laughing.
“The doll is Black.”
“So? She wanted it so badly in the store. She kept pointing at it and yelling, ‘baby baby baby’.”
“And how did the cashier take to it when she rang it up?”
“She didn’t care.” She said as she watched our daughter give the doll kisses. “But the people in line behind us were kind of looking at us weird.”
“See, we can’t ever bring it outside.”
“People are going to think we’re racist.”
“What are you talking about?”
“They’re going to think we’re disrespecting Black people.” The doll wasn’t a plastic piece of caricature, or at least no more than any other doll with its ridiculously large eyes and mouth stuck agape for its bottle, but to an overly sensitive person the doll could seem related to Sambo. “You see the way she treats her white dolls? She throws them on the ground, steps on them.”
“Right. So why can’t she do that to a Black doll?”
“I just don’t think you can.” and on cue as if to prove my point our daughter poured the contents of her bottle all over the doll. This led my Love Interest to start Googling whether it was appropriate for a white baby to have a Black doll. Somehow that led to a bunch of links involving Angelina Jolie.
Perhaps I am the one who is being racist, but we have decided to err on the side of caution. This doll whose diaper has yet to be replaced after its first wetting has so far been an indoor doll. When I came home the other night to see her placed inside my daughter’s potty I think we made the right decision.
But now there is a new doll in the house that my daughter points at and calls, “baby”. She’s a Cabbage Patch Doll. She’s White, but with her curly hair and substantial nose, she might be Jewish.