My girl asked for a brown baby for her birthday, and so, we delivered (the easy way via Amazon.com) a bouncing brown baby girl in January.
Amid the oooohs and aaaaahs and I LOVE HERs, I asked what would you like to name her?
“Baby Gum”, my girl answered without any hesitation.
And it’s stuck. No pun intended.
Baby Gum has been very well cared for, I mean as much as two 3-year-olds can care for a baby. Don’t fire your childcare providers and enlist 3-year-old twins to watch your babies, people.
She sleeps with my girl, she sits with her to watch shows, she is fed in her highchair and blanketed when she wants to be cozy.
Every time we go anywhere, my girl will say, I KNOW WE SHOULD GET DIS FOR BABY GUM! About anything that strikes her fancy. Not for her, mind you, but for Baby Gum.
My boy is quite enamored by her as well, always making sure she is nearby.
When we went in for the 3-year checkups, Baby Gum came with and two separate people said, “Oh, I thought she was a real baby!” because I tend to carry her as I would my own real life babies. Old habits die hard. I tend to rock her as I hold her too. Don’t judge. When I start putting her to my breast, THEN you can judge.
Little did I know when I searched high and low for a baby of color that Baby Gum would become so integral to our little family. I fell in love with her adorable face before I even met her. Hmmmm, where have we moms heard that before?
Last weekend I went to a resale event and I was specifically looking for two used foot scooters for my kiddos and of course that means helmets. So, I grabbed the ONE helmet they had there (these resale events are so great, yet INSANE) only to get it home and try to shove it on a child’s head finding it way too small.
I KNOW! BABY GUM CAN WEAR IT!
Well, sure enough, it fits her perfectly. And she’s damn happy to have it too. Reminds me of a certain little baby boy wearing a helmet.
We later went to the outlet malls that day and the poor baby had nothing to wear so I got her a onesie from the Carters super mega marked down to like $.50 rack.
Are you following me here? I bought Baby Gum a onesie. I’ve lost my damn mind. All our other dolls have hand me down clothes or the CLOTHES THEY CAME WITH ARE GOOD ENOUGH. The kids and Chris were waiting outside. I had nobody in there with me telling me to buy it. I did it of my own accord because come on. Baby Gum needs a change of clothes. Yes, I clearly have a favorite.
Baby Gum is one of us now. We all acknowledge that she has brown skin and we have pink skin. We talk about it. A lot. Just like we talk about our Awesome Nanny Nikki having brown skin and us having pink skin. What makes us different from each other makes us beautifully unique. Just like they talk about the hair on my legs being soft (WINTER IN CHICAGO PEOPLE) and the hard skin on my feet being prickly and mama having a bigger bottom, we talk about everything.
My boy woke up from a nap a bit ago and the first thing he said to Nikki was, “Nikki I love your brown skin”.
Just as we don’t pretend gender doesn’t exist, we don’t pretend color doesn’t exist. We don’t, NOT SEE COLOR. We see color and shapes and sizes and all the things that make us beautifully different from each other. But what we see more of are all the ways we are alike.
As I searched for a baby of color, I realized that I’d been naïve to the difficulty of the task before having kids. I had no idea brown baby dolls were so elusive. Sure, they’re out there, but you gotta LOOK. What the hell is up with that? Why is it when you look in a Target, there just aren’t many? I had to order one online – which, let’s be honest I’d rather do anyway, but not the point – the point is our local Target didn’t have any. We white folks have the luxury of walking into any store and finding a doll that looks almost like us. When I think about these children of color and looking for a doll and not finding many that look almost like them, well that breaks my heart. What does that tell them?
My kids have Caucasian dolls. They have Disney dolls. They have Dora and Batman and Cabbage Patch dolls. Now they have Baby Gum.
I write my heart. I drive my husband crazy about the discrepancy between boy/girl toys, clothes, accouterments so I write about that a lot. I’ve added this to my list. Who knows if it will make any difference but if nobody says anything, if I don’t say anything, then I’m part of the problem, right? We need more dolls of color. WE NEED MORE DOLLS OF COLOR. Talk to your local stores and let them know what you’d like, you’ll be surprised how many are actually open to adding new things based on customer demand.
When my girl asked for a brown baby doll, I was thrilled. I just didn’t know she would open so many discussions up to us each day. I have hope for my kids being empathetic and kind. I have hope for their being inclusive instead of exclusive.
Caring, nurturing, empathy, responsibility. These are all things we are learning by having Baby Gum with us. But hope? Hope was something I didn’t expect. We have some difficult discussions ahead of us about racism and the absolute choke-hold it has on this country. But for today, we have Baby Gum. And a whole lotta hope. And can’t we all use a whole bunch of that right now.
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