Growing up my family didn’t have a lot of money. I being a girly girl wanted every doll known to mankind. Christmas catalogs were my favorite books to interact with. (this was internet-esque for all of you young people) My Christmas lists always included the latest and greatest dolls (ones that wet their pants, ones that cried, ones that talked and ones that crawled) I got the one that crawled for my gift one year and in my stocking I got a smaller wind up version. When I got the smaller one I was thrilled and a little disappointed because I thought that meant I wasn’t getting the larger one. You see I will tell you that I wanted a “BARBIE” doll too, but I got the generic version the “Darbie” (I don’t know if that was her name but for the sake of this story it is.) doll and I knew that this was just the way things went because we didn’t have the money. (i also believed that Santa’s elves made this shit and Darbie was a knockoff made by elves, i had a sharp sense of trademark secrets and Santa didn’t want to get sued.) So, back to my story, I opened up this gift and realized that Santa gave me the crawling doll (i guess he started a deal with Mattel toys and the real Barbie will be on next year’s list for sure) I was in LOVE with my doll. I watched her crawl everywhere. (what i am about to tell you is not, in any way, a testament on what type of parent i would grow up to be) I got a little bored with this doll so I started to make her crawl off of things…. like first she accidentally crawled off the couch. (she didn’t cry because she wasn’t the crying one) Then a lightbulb went off…I was going stage little accidents for my poor baby so that I could save her.
First she crawled off of my bed. “Oh No, Poor baby! Don’t worry mommy’s here!” I would fuss over her.
Then she crawled off of my dresser, “Oh Dear, little one how did you get up there?” (i put her up there, but that wasn’t the point)
Then she crawled off the stairs and fell down them and sat at the bottom upside down still moving in the crawling motion and smile on her painted plastic face. “Oh My Goodness, you have go to be more careful.”
Then she crawled under the car…into the doghouse…down the hill in the backyard…and eventually this doll looked like she had been living in a dumpster. Her hair was out of the pig tail and yet oddly still stick up. Her skin was all dirty and one off her eyes was sort of scraped off. I owned this doll for about a year and she looked well played with. The smaller one got little use, but I did play with her as well, she was just smaller and more delicate. I didn’t want her to get hurt. (clearly playing favorites I just don’t know which one WAS the favorite)
It was summer now and my Grandmother was visiting. I loved my Grandmother because she was no nonsense, whereas I was one hundred percent nonsense. She and I got along great. I was an absolute dreamer and I think my Grandmother truly appreciated that. She on the other hand had nine kids and lived on a farm…she was “one tough bird”…as my father would say. She took a shot of whiskey every night before she went to bed…if she didn’t have whiskey it was NyQuil and if I was sleeping with her (MOM close your eyes) I got one too. Otherwise I would stay up all night asking her questions. (yes, I was that kid…still am, it drives my husband crazy) If I woke up from a nightmare she would say to me in her gruff manor “Well you put that mare back in her barn and tell her to go to sleep!” somehow this would comfort me…it also would make me laugh because it made no sense. If I asked her what it meant she said things like “You better get your little ass out into the country, you don’t want to be a city slicker your whole life, do ya?” Again I had no clue what the hell she was saying but I would laugh and laugh. She one time told my parents that “Becki might actually grow if you cut off some of that Goddamned hair.” She was folksy like that.
My sister and I were home with Grandma. We were excited because we were going to go down to “the dump road” to pick berries (yes…I do mean down by the town dump! As in the garbage dump, the berries grew rather well down there) and then we were going to bake something. I couldn’t wait. I put on my flip-flops, which were our summer shoes, and off we went. I got in a little trouble for walking slow. I sped up to a brisk jog to keep up with my grandmother. My sister and I decided that we should sing on our journey. My Grandmother decided that we should NOT. She would say things like “Don’t pick the green ones because they aren’t ready.” or “Don’t tip your bowl because you are going to lose your berries.” and my personally favorite “Don’t be eating all of those berries, Becki, or you will get a bellyache.” We picked until the bushes were clean of ripe berries and headed home.
“Becki, did you eat all of your berries?” Grandma asked
My berry juice covered face telling the truth as I lied, “No, I must have a hole in my bowl.” I smiled with blackberry stained teeth, seeds all stuck in between. She smiled and took my bowl and dumped it into hers. “So you don’t spill anymore.” she said. She patted my head and said “You might want to brush this rats nest on top of your head!”
“Rats don’t live in nests….thats birds you’re thinking of Grandma.” She chuckled and called me her little City slicker.
One time I called her a farm slicker….because I really didn’t understand what a city slicker was…things got serious and she told me if I ever said it again she would slap my little ass and see if I thought I was funny then. I did Not ever call her a farm slicker after that.
We get home and the house is empty…we know its empty because the boys all went swimming at a friend’s house. I get the colander out to wash the berries. My sister and my grandmother search together for a recipe and ask me if I wanted blackberry pie or blackberry muffins. I being the sensible one said “Both!” and we measure the berries to see if we have enough for both. I was sitting at the kitchen table which is at the end of the hallway. The hallway leads to my bedroom that I share with my sister. We were sitting and laughing with Grandma when all of sudden I hear something. My sister hears it too and we both turn slowly to see what on Earth was making that noise.
What we saw was only something that could be conjured straight out of our nightmares. There crawling down the hallway was my two dolls. The first one, all dirty and scraped up with one pigtail and a mess of hair at the other side of her head, crawling straight toward me. I start screaming and crying and overreacting in every possible way. I at one point was under the table and I’m pretty certain I pulled in the chair behind me for extra protection. I also was pushing my sister out of my hiding spot because I honestly thought this doll was coming to get revenge on me for staging all of those accidents. Maybe her doll brain finally realized that it was me all along. She understood that I was a terrible doll mother.
As I was shaking under the table like the true braveheart that I am. My Grandmother grabs a pot full of ice cold water…muttering to herself “You Goddamned fools…. Messing around with me…I’ll teach you a lesson!” She walks down the hallway past the possessed dolls straight into my bedroom. We hear a commotion, the splash of water and the sound of people hollering. “You think you boys are so Goddamned clever. You scared your two sisters out of their wits and they don’t got a lot to work with. Now you go out there and apologize to them.”
The boys walk out of the bedroom all soaking wet and said halfheartedly in unison “Sorry!”
Grandma hands them each a towel and says “Now go clean up that water, that’ll teach you not to do it again.” She looks at us and says, “I think we have enough berries to make both.” she goes back to work baking. I crawl out from under the table not certain what the hell just happened. I then start laughing. My Grandma “Don’t go getting all silly on me. You were just shaking under the table. OoOH OOOH, Grandma our dolls came to life!” I look at Grandma and I know that she is picking on me but I don’t care. I hug her and said “I love you Grandma.”
She hugs me back and says “Get back to work!” she is smiling and I know that she loves me too. After dinner that night we had pie and muffins. I asked Grandma if I could sleep with her. She says that I could. We go upstairs and she takes out her NyQuil and takes her shot as I was eyeballing her. She laughs and hands me mine. Swig of NyQuil and off to sleep we go. I slept so soundly that night next to the bravest woman I would ever know. I know that she didn’t actually save us from anything, but to me she was a hero. I have fond memories of that tough old bird. Some of them, most of them, came with her catch phrase “How about I slap your little ass, see if you think your so funny, then?” Awe grandmas always being played out in books as some sweet innocent character. My grandma was a badass mofo. She wasn’t taking no shit from anybody. This little city slicker lives out in the country near Amish now and I do love the country. I hope I do my Grandma proud. I have one daughter that rides horses and has my grandmother’s badass demeanor. I have another daughter who loves to bake. My son he is as brave and clever as my grandmother. You see grandma she is with me every single day.
Moral of my story, first don’t ever get those crawling dolls for your kids, cuz when they come to life, that shit’s scary. Second, if you do get your kids those crawling dolls teach them to be nicer to them. Third, don’t ever underestimate grandma, yours any any other. Fourth, NyQuil isn’t great to give to kids just so that they sleep. I actually think that it was terrible. I hated the taste…I just drank it because grandma did….I thought it would make me braver. (disclaimer, NyQuil does Not make you brave)
Until next time when I talk a little bit about being a parent…not like I was to my dolls…I was a better mom to people. 🙂