“William’s grandmother smiled. “He needs it,” she said, “to hug and to cradle and to take to the park so that when he’s a father like you, he’ll know how to take care of his baby” …” ~William’s Doll by Charlotte Zolotow
Nearly 18 years ago, a very wise woman named Mary introduced me to this book, and it’s been one of my favourites ever since. It’s beautiful at its core and revolutionary for its time. Written in 1972, it tells the story of a young boy who just wants a doll to play with and care for.
Even now in 2012, this notion makes some of us uncomfortable. My question is, why? Really, what better way to help our little boys learn to be tender and careful fathers, than to encourage this sort of make-believe play?
As Father’s Day approaches this weekend, I decided there was no better time to celebrate this story and maybe soothe some of the social qualms we have about letting our boys play with dolls.
During nap time at my house, I have 3 little boys who are left awake with me. What a perfect opportunity to read this story. I gathered 3 baby dolls and all the things we would need to care for them…bottles, burp cloths, bathtub, diapers, shampoo, bibs, and baby doll slings for baby wearing, which my friend Alicia Wilson so graciously knitted for me and my smalls.
We started out by reading the story together. The boys were frustrated with William’s brother for calling him a creep and angry at the neighbor boy for calling him a sissy.
They were so grateful for William’s grandmother for finally buying him what he really needed…you could just see the relief on their little faces as William clutched his new baby doll in his arms.
We talked about babies, and how they need love and care and attention. We talked about how one day they might be dads themselves, and they would need to know how to gently care for their wee ones. I had the boys tell me some of the qualities they think make a really good dad. We had a really great discussion together.
I did have to reassure one of the boys that he could indeed be a spy AND a father when he grows up!
The first skill we tried was diapering. Oh, it was hard not to laugh. One of the dolls heads started out in the diaper, one of them had the baby doll legs turned backwards…it was a sight to be seen!
Once they managed the diapers, we moved on to feeding. The boys really enjoyed this part…it was waaaay easier than working a diaper!
After feeding, came burping. You all know how boys feel about burping.
Yup. His baby burped.
The boys bathed their babies…careful to hold the baby’s head up!
And then snugged them up for some good cuddling and another bottle.
If you get a chance to read this precious book, don’t pass it up. It’s an absolute joy…one of those books that gives you goosebumps when you read it. I believe our boys should be just as capable at caring for someone smaller than themselves as our girls are expected to be.
And so did Charlotte…some 30 years ago.
Happy Father’s Day, all of you dads out there!! Thank you for being such strong and tender examples to your children…I can’t imagine it’s an easy job sometimes!
And thank you, Mary…for showing me this book when I was first starting out with my own new baby. I will always be grateful.
Oh, and if you want, I’ll hook you up with the fabulous Alicia and her baby-wearing doll slings. They really are fabulous!
Now it is your turn to link up your kid activity ideas down here at the bottom for the Weekly Kid’s Co-op. Remember to link the C0-op somewhere on your blog so others can come back to this fabulous list of ideas. Enjoy!
Thanks for stopping by!
~Arlee, Small Potatoes