I injured my dancing doll. I don’t know how old she was, but I was four. It was kind of an accident, but if I’d understood the physics of stress, I might have saved her.
She was lying on the bed with one of her arms stuck out between the mattress and the foot board. I was going to take her with me, so I grabbed her arm and pulled. My four year old brain assumed that because she was soft, her body would smoosh down to fit through the narrow space, and expand again when she came out on the other side. You know, like real babies do when they’re being born.
She was not a real baby, and I was stronger than her stitching. A brief ripping sound and I was bouncing on my booty with Dancing Doll’s detached arm dangling in my hand.
“Oh, no, Dancing Doll!” Me. Jumping to my feet, horrified.
I yanked the rest of her off the bed and ran to my mom as fast as if my poor friend might be bleeding to death. (No one said “bleeding out” back then.)
Mom was busy homemaking, but when I showed her Dancing Doll’s pieces, she said:
“Calm down. I can fix it.” Mom the Homemaker
And so I entrusted my dear Dancing Doll to Mom’s care.
I waited what I thought was long enough — days, weeks — all right, I forgot about Dancing Doll until I remembered. It might have been months later. When I asked Mom if she’d sewed Dancing Doll’s arm back on, she looked at me like I’d asked if she’d made mud pies for dinner. She said:
“That old thing? I got rid of her a long time ago.” Mom the Trust Breaker
If I’d understood Dramatic Effect, I would have fainted.
Flash forward approximately one year. I was five, and I was playing with my stuffed dog, Ebony, my oldest surviving toy. (Grandma Ranscht had given him/her — I never could determine Ebony’s gender — to me for my very first Christmas.)
Somehow, Ebony ended up covered with something that might or might not have been bath powder. I tried my best to dust it off, but there was no removing the fine particulate that changed his/her black fur to a dark, dusty charcoal. I was prepared to live with it, hoping it would eventually leave of its own accord, but Mom came in and saw the mess. She might have been putting laundry away, or maybe I’d been quiet too long. She said:
“Here, I’ll fix it.” Mom the Homemaker/Toy Vanisher
Reluctantly placing Ebony in her outstretched hand, I asked in a quavering voice:
“Are you going to throw Ebony away?” Me. Remembering.
She looked at me like I’d asked if she planned to drown my little sister Kim during her bath.
“Of course not. I’m going to throw him in the wash. Why would you think I’d throw him away?” Mom the Forgetful
Dancing Doll and I knew why. I followed Mom to the laundry room. Just to be sure.
I was there when she took Ebony out of the washer and the cloth under both ears was slightly blue. She offered to wash him again to try and get the blue out, but I wasn’t willing to risk that it wouldn’t work and she’d think Ebony was unfixable and I’d never see him/her again. So I told a fib:
“No. It’s okay. I like the blue.” Me. Fibbing.
And I was there when Mom emptied the dryer. Just in case. Ebony’s ears were still distinctly blue, but I hugged that warm little stuffed dog and took him/her back to my room. Eventually, the blue left of its own accord. As you can see:
Most of the time it takes a major betrayal to shake our trust in someone we love, but sometimes, it’s a small thing they aren’t even aware of. Do you remember the first time you lost trust in someone you loved?