Just before Christmas, 1984, the first holiday season of my Child Care career, the second of Cabbage Patch Kids, I started thinking about adopting. I wasn’t too worried, after all, 1983 had been the Year of the Cabbage Patch Christmas Riots. Surely, Coleco had manufactured enough of them this year to meet the growing demand.
Oh, sorry. You didn’t think I meant to adopt a real child, did you?
“Buy your son a doll?” You. Skeptical.
“Sure. How better to practice being a good daddy?” Me
Maybe the reason so many men show so little interest in hands-on baby care is that they absorbed the message that caring for children was “women’s work” when they weren’t allowed to play with dolls.
That wasn’t going to be my son.
The Christmas he was one, Brylan received a baby doll he’d promptly named Jason and loved every bit as much as most little girls love their baby dolls. More than some. (We hadn’t met Hannah yet. She hated baby dolls from infancy. If you put one near her, she’d freak.)
Brylan, on the other hand, was a devoted dad. He fed Jason and bathed him, told him stories and took him to bed. Carried him around at home, took him along when we left the house. For years. But the Christmas he was two, I took it into my head that he needed to experience having a toddler, too.
Coleco hadn’t learned their lesson well. I looked in all the obvious cabbage patches — Toys R Us, Sears, Fedco — but I couldn’t find a little boy Cabbage Patch Kid anywhere. Because of course I had decided Brylan should have one who looked like him.
As Christmas neared, I started looking in less obvious cabbage patches (financially-impaired parent speak for “more expensive stores”) and finally, in a little boutique toy store called The Apple Box, in a touristy bayside mall called Seaport Village, I found Vaughn Mort.
His “adoption fee” was twice that of normal CP Kids.
And right next to him was the most adorable redheaded girl Cabbage Patch Kid.
I don’t know what brain-altering chemical fumes rose from their little vinyl faces, but I thought they might be twins. How could I take one and not the other? When I walked out of The Apple Box, I had adopted Vaughn Mort and his “sister” Glennis Adelle.
They never held as cherished a spot in Brylan’s heart as Jason did. Or as they did in mine. I suspect I really got them for myself. But I only played with them when Brylan and Jason were sleeping, and I always made them sleep in their own cradle when I went to bed.
It’s kind of embarrassing to admit now that I had succumbed to the power of Madison Avenue. But not nearly as embarrassing as leaving McDonald’s without buying anything, and heading for a different Mickey D’s because this particular Golden Arches didn’t have the right Miss Piggy toy in their Happy Meal — the only toy missing from the set Brylan had been collecting one-piece-a-week for weeks.
That was embarrassing.
Have you ever indulged your child — or yourself — in any of the fads that work their magic on the toy market from time to time? It’s a power He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named could only dream of.