Tag Archive | blue baby

I Shared The Books of My Childhood With My Kids, But They Cried and Begged Me to Stop

All whipped up in a froth of nostalgia, I started sharing my favorite childhood things with my kids.  I pictured them embracing their history through the “antique” items that represented my youth.  Because they already know Blue Baby, they were right to be cautious about stuff from Mommy’s childhood.

How can my kids resist the toys from my childhood?

How can my kids resist the toys from my childhood?

But still, they’d come around on Blue Baby, so I assumed they would see beneath the scars of love and overuse to embrace the “new” toys I was introducing them to.

What actually happened is that they not only rejected half of the relics, but some of them actually seemed to distress and traumatize them.  The themes of the books I loved were troubling to their modern sensibilities.  Apparently, my kids don’t like stories about poachers or near-death-by-drowning or the arrogance of “Man” vis-a-vis the animal kingdom.  Where in the world did these radical children come from?  Commies.

It shouldn’t have hurt my feelings, but I confess I felt dissed.  Then I felt ridiculous when I heard myself saying, “Just ignore the part where Babar’s mom was murdered! Wait till you see him get married. It’s the coolest!”

Fine.  Your American Girl dolls are fancier than Blue Baby; your muddled and incomprehensible Dora stories are better than Babar.  I just hope I live long enough to meet my grandchildren and roll out the crap my kids think is so freaking awesome and timeless.  I will have the last laugh here, even if I have to live to 90 to get it.

To read about how my children reacted as we plowed through Babar, Curious George, and other classics from my 1970’s childhood, click here.


I Forgot To Name My Babies After My Grandparents– Now What?

Apparently, it’s grandparent week here at Outlaw Mama.  In case you missed yesterday’s riveting portrait of my connection to my grandfather through an almost-shared hernia, click here.  Continuing on that theme, today I am thinking about baby names.  Specifically, I always pictured myself having babies named after my grandparents.  Little Virginia, Lucile, John and Joseph– they were supposed to be in the mix.  Small problem: I am done having babies and neither of the ones I already gave birth to have those names.

Welcome to grandparent week!

Welcome to grandparent week!

I didn’t think I cared.  Then I saw a little girl at the park named Virginia.  That sparked a flame of regret about the baby names that will never be.

And I remember suggesting Virginia as a name for Sadie.  It was in the mix for a while, though we abandoned it around 30 weeks into the pregnancy.  We arrived at the hospital with our two finalists: April and Sadie.

As for Simon, I can’t say that either of my grandfather’s names were really in the running.  He does have my maternal grandparents’ last name as his middle name, but that’s not quite the same.

Since the womb is closed, I have started looking around for things I can name.  Things that are precious enough to name after my grandparents, even though “things” are not flesh and blood.

Here are my contenders for things to name after my grandparents:

  1. Mini Van: My first fancy car was named “Sadie,” so why not name the mini van after one of my favorite forebears?  Our Odyssey is gray, sleek and hearty.  She’s just like my Texan-born grandmother, Virginia.  Also, she get shiz done, just like Virginia.  “Kids, get in the Virginia! We are late for school!”
  2. Our House: Ok, it’s not a ranch or a manse, but it’s a house and I think it deserves a name.  It’s compact, sturdy, and pretty tall.  Just like my paternal grandfather, Joseph Thomas.  If you hear “we are headed back to Joseph Thomas after the game,” just know we are going home.
  3. Kitchen Aid mixer: It’s going to last forever right?  Why not give it a name? It sits on the counter, all shiny and red– it deserves a proper name.  We shall call in John.  It might get a little confusing since some people use “john” to refer other fixtures in the house, but if I tell you that I made pasta dough in the John, just know I’m talking about the one on the counter, not the one in the bathroom. (Plus, the odds of me ever making homemade pasta dough are roughly zero.)
  4. Baby Doll: Do you know my precious baby doll, Blue Baby? Maybe it’s time to give her a name.  Out of respect for all parties, I will not give her the name of the grandmother who tried to murder her in the burning can, but she can have my other grandmother’s name.  Lucile.  Everyone wins.
Never miss a chance to post this little beauty's picture

Never miss a chance to post this little beauty’s picture

Did you give your children (or your household items) your grandparents’ names?  How’d that work out for you?

Blue Baby’s Side of the Story

Pre Bar-B-Que

Pre Bar-B-Que

I won’t lie, I thought it was the end.  One second I was enjoying the sunrise and the country air and the next second, BAM! I was thrown in a burning can, left to stare at the sooty walls that rose four feet above me.

My first thought was, “What kind of Grandma puts a baby doll in a burning can?”

My second thought was, “I hope it’s not the same kind of Grandma that strikes a match before Christie wakes up and finds me.”

Her Grandma never liked me, and the feeling was entirely mutual.  I never speak ill of the dearly departed, but let me just say she had some issues.  I suppose living through the Depression was unpleasant, but that’s no excuse for trying to bar-b-que an innocent doll.  Yes, I was an eye sore, but the dust bowl wasn’t my fault.  I am a freaking doll.

So can we all agree that putting your granddaughter’s beloved baby doll in a barrel to burn is not normal.

Once I landed in the can, I had no real options except to wait for rescue.  I listened to the bees hovering over the honeysuckle behind me.  Occasionally, a gentle breeze would blow ashes in my face.  “Christie better hurry up and find me, because it smells like someone made bacon and burnt biscuits for breakfast, and those scraps are headed straight for this can on top of me,” I thought.  I had already lost most of my hair– how much more could I endure?

Sure enough, I soon heard Christie’s terrified panting and then saw her fat little fingers grab the top rim of the barrel. Her head bobbed up and down, as she tried jumping up to see if I was in there.  She was not very agile, so this level of aerobic exertion was unnatural for her.  Had I not been in such a dire predicament, I would have worried more about her delicate constitution.

Her brother must have whispered to her that Grandma “may have” put me in the burning can.  He actually might have been the one who helped her drag a stool across the yard so she could reach me.

I had never been so glad to see her.  So what if she fed me cat food at her tea parties and smeared Mary Kay lipstick all over me?  When my choice was burning to death or being over-loved by a three-year-old, I voted for Kitty Kibbles.

As Southern gothic as the whole episode was, I knew Christie would survive this—and much worse.  It was only a matter of time before she would take Mrs. Balden’s English class and read the first line of Anna Karenina (“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”).  She was a smart cookie, and she would learn that this pain merely made her human, along with everyone else in her story.  Except me of course.

I’m just the doll.

read to be read at yeahwrite.me

That Doll

I had my reasons.

That’s what I told my son when he called angry with me for putting Christie’s doll in the burning can.  I hadn’t heard him that hot since I told Judy Wakeland that he had taken a shining to her youngest daughter.

When I got off the phone, I looked to see if Jody was still out burying the heifer that died that morning.  I saw his old yellow pick-up at the edge of the pasture and felt grateful for a minute to collect myself. I never told him about the call.

"Baby I know that we've got trouble in the fields..."

That summer was a scorcher. We watched helplessly as corn withered in sun-burnt husks, and tomatoes went from green to rotten in a single afternoon. The worst day was always Sunday because I had to wear nylons, and there was too much time between hymns to worry about money and Jody’s cough. That cough didn’t sound good. I kept asking Jody to see Dr. Goodall, but he just mumbled about cutting out salt, which meant we couldn’t go to the picture show because you can’t have popcorn without salt, and you can’t watch a picture without popcorn.

Christie had come to stay with us right after her third birthday. I had been eyeing a doll at Marchman’s all spring.  The one I could afford had a pink pinafore, Shirley Temple curls, and black Mary Janes.  She was the prettiest doll under $12.00 that was brand new. I thought Paul’s girl should have a new doll, so I bought her with money from our tax return.

At first, Christie was shy, but she warmed up when she saw my candy dish full of stuck-together Fig Newtons. Her sweet tooth!  I started praying that summer that she would turn out skinny like her mama. The world isn’t good to big girls, especially in the city where there’s no use for extra meat on the bone.

Christie always had that doll– not the new one I bought her, but her old one that looked like the devil himself up and beat it about the head.  Christie had loved the hair clean off her head.

Looking at that doll spoiled my appetite.  I knew everyone was making a fool out of Christie, letting her drag that ugly thing around.

One time I heard Dolly Parton on TV talking about growing up so poor that her only toy was a corn cob doll.  Dolly was giggling and making it sound good, but I knew her laughter was a lie.  There’s nothing funny about having a doll made of food no one wants to eat.  I changed the channel.

So I did it.

Early that morning before Christie woke up, I took her sad doll straight to the burning can. I was still in my nightgown.  I was tired of looking at her and remembering things I tried hard to forget.

I wanted to eat some biscuits and bacon, and see pretty things.  Everything else—I wanted to burn.

I had my reasons.
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Blue Baby

“Where’s Blue Baby?” I asked rubbing my eyes and following the smell of burning biscuits downstairs.  I found my brother sitting at Grandma’s kitchen table helping himself to still-sizzling bacon served right out of a cast iron pan. I eyed his bowl of Cream of Wheat with its square dollop of butter forming a perfect yellow pool. I hated being the last one awake.

“Grandma’s almost ready for Sunday school. Better hurry up, ” he said, licking his spoon.

Grandma was humming Amazing Grace from behind the bathroom door.

“But I can’t find Blue Baby.” Panic prickled my skin. I knew I had gone to sleep with her because I did every night.  My arms didn’t feel right without her tucked inside them.

I became Blue Baby’s mama when I turned two.  She had the perfect blue gingham dress– just like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.  I loved her more than any person alive, but my Grandma was my favorite alive person.

Without looking up my brother mumbled, “Grandma put her in the burning can.” I knew Blue Baby had an enemy in Grandma, because Baby Blue had bald spots on her head.  Grandma asked me why I pulled her hair, and I told her the truth: “Because I loved her so much.”

I was the only one who still thought she looked beautiful. Because she was.

My beautiful Blue Baby (36 years later)

My beautiful Blue Baby (36 years later)

I knew I was on Grandma’s list of favorite people, ranking somewhere after Jesus who did miracles, like bringing my daddy home safely from Vietnam.  I also thought she loved my cousin Susan more than me because Susan knew a lot about the Bible, and she lived in California so Grandma got to fly in a plane to visit her.

I didn’t believe my Grandma would put my doll in the burning can, the place where country people light their trash on fire.  Sometimes Grandma let me strike the match, but I wasn’t supposed to tell my mom or dad.

That morning, my brother wouldn’t look at me. I got scared he was telling the truth.

I ran out the door as fast as my bare feet could carry me. I saw the rusty barrel where just the night before we had taken turns setting trash on fire and marveling as flames devoured our dinner scraps.

I wasn’t tall enough to see all the way inside even standing on my tippy toes. I ran to the kitchen to grab a stool.

Once I steadied the stool in the grass, I climbed up and could see all the way inside the barrel.  I saw Blue Baby sleeping on ashy ghosts of burned newspaper pages. Her dress was covered in fine black dust.  I grabbed my baby and held her sooty body.  I whispered in her ear that I would never let her go.

“Grandma must have had a good reason for putting you there,” I assured her.

“She must have had a good reason.”

read to be read at yeahwrite.me