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.

Doll 1
Not my Dancing Doll, but probably a distant cousin. Mine had a cloth face and a softer expression.

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:

I took this picture yesterday. See how well-loved Ebony is? Woody, Winnie-ther-Pooh, and Velveteen Rabbit would be proud.

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?

Author: Sue Ranscht

I am a writer. Let me tell you a story...

5 thoughts on “Trust”

  1. Great post… Here’s my story: I must have been about 8 or 9 and my parents had to go away over night for work. My grandma was looking after my brother and myself. Honestly, we didn’t like that. Anyway. On my way home from school I passed a shop that sold those fantastic little hard rubber animals. And there was a black foal I loved so much. I had some coins on me and decided to go into the shop and ask how much it would cost. The lady told me $5 but I only had 3 on me. So I decided to go home and take an additional 2 from my savings in my piggy bank and go back. My grandma asked me where I was going. I didn’t wanted to tell her the truth as she had previously not allowed me to spend my money on something. So I told her that I would go see a friend.

    Before I continue let me tell you the following: I was a good child. Always. I would have never done anything wrong. My mom usually bought everything for us. She would have bought that foal for me that day or at least allowed me to go get it because I wanted it for so long and I saved for it. My grandma was a very different person.

    So I took off and bought the little horse. But I felt bad. I felt like I betrayed the trust of my grandma. So I decided to hide the horse and then tell my mom later that night when she was back home. So I hid it in my room under my pillow and went playing outside. Only 5 minutes later my grandma stood in the door furiously shaking the black foal in her hand. She shouted at me that I had to come over and go back to the store to return it as I had stolen it because she knew that it was $5 and that I had only $3 on me. But she didn’t consider that I came home to get more money.

    I tried to explain it to her but she didn’t listen. So she made me go to the shop and there she apologized to the lady for me steeling the horse. The lady tried to explain to her that I bought it. But it didn’t help. She accepted the fact that I bought it reluctantly but then returned the horse anyway because I had not asked her for permission…

    She showed me that she did not trust me there and then…

    I told the story to my mom later that day. The next day when I returned from school the foal was no longer in the shop window and it broke my heart thinking that someone else might have bought it. When I returned home the horse was on my pillow with $5 next to it and a note from my mom saying, that she would always trust me… (now that’s another story…)

    Needless to say how disappointed I was in my grandma.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww. Thanks for sharing your story. I know it’s hard to be a child and stuck temporarily under someone else’s rules that don’t match the ones you know and rely on. But I think it must be hard to be the person trying to impose your own rules on children who might not like them. While I was doing Day Care, the parents and I explained the differences between home rules and Sue’s rules as being house-related. But to be in someone else’s house… It’s too bad she felt so insecure she didn’t trust you. I know that hurts.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yup, it did. What did hurt was that she thought I would steal. And that when she was told that I did not steal it but purchase it she did not apologize. I would have understood it if she would have still returned it and given me the reason she did. She still made me feel like a thief in a way because she did not apologize for having me labeled as one. But you know there is a long story to it and this is only a snippet… I agree with you, it’s not easy to look after children. So I think it’s important that parents and people who look after kids talk about what they want and don’t want. My Mom had the conversation with Grandma. But my grandma simply never agreed on the way my Mom raised us… That’s why she never looked after us but that one time, because everyone else who usually took care of us was unavailable…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. You’re right, communicating with children is just as important as communicating with adults. Although it was an unpleasant experience, if you’d had one of your regular care givers their, you might not have had the insight you have.

          Liked by 1 person

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