Suburban Hippie Mom Problems

It was a struggle to figure out what to get Lil Liebchen for her first birthday. I’m historically not-so-psyched about gendered toys (which has totally backfired. Thanks to Das Big Boy, I can name every construction vehicle ever invented, and even the most obscure trains from the Island of Sodor). Plus, gendered toys don’t usually emerge until around age two. We already have pretty much every developmental toy you would want for a one year old (when you have a preemie, you’ll buy anything you think will foster his development, and early intervention practitioners are constantly hinting about the benefits of all kinds of bouncers and balls and walkers and ride on toys). So I was at a loss for what our Lil Liebchen might need.

I thought about an organic bean bag chair, but those are expensive. It would make more sense buy her a sack of organic rice and hope it doesn’t eventually produce weevils or something. Then I asked around of parents of multiple kids. A doll, they suggested. Now of course I had a wee sexism freakout, but then I realized Das Big Boy has several dolls: Otto, Ernesto, and Samantha.


And finally, Samantha. Turns out I should have taken better care of her because according to the internet she is now worth lots of money.

Meet Otto, who at the time looked eerily like Das Big Boy.

Meet Ernesto. He never looked like Das Big Boy. Also, we had a hard time naming him because it seemed stereotypical to give him a traditionally black name, but like we were trying too hard not to be stereotypical by giving him a traditionally white name. So we made him Hispanic and (sort of?) avoided the whole issue. (Also, it should be noted that Das Big Boy’s real name is the same as a famous black TV character, so yes, there are obviously names without racial assumptions. But still. These are the conundra you face as a (white) suburban hippie mom trying to teach about racial justice. That was a long f-ing caption.

So I didn’t have to feel terrible about getting Little Liebchen a doll, because it’s not some act of female containment. I like dolls for Das Big Boy because I think they foster his sense of nurturing and encourage his pretend play; don’t I want the same for my daughter? (Let’s not go too far down this road. After all, I’d rather DBB become obsessed with Disney princesses than LL. Perhaps we can explore that later.) So I started researching dolls. Lots of folks love the Corolle dolls for their kids, but a quick search told me they’re made of vinyl! Vinyl!! We don’t even have a vinyl shower curtain (although we do have a giant vinyl bounce hut that both kids love, so we’re not batting 100% on this one. Sorry, Dr. G. I promise not to let your kids play in it). Now I know everyone’s kid has a doll made of vinyl, and people of my generation probably wore vinyl pajamas and underpants and headgear, and they turned out fine but once it was in my head, I at least wanted to look at the crunchy-mom doll options.

This is what I call falling down a Hippie Mom Google Hole. I looked for organic dolls, then rediscovered the notion of Waldorf dolls (natural materials, hand made, neutral facial expressions to encourage open-ended play) and quickly came across Bamboletta.

Sidebar: whenever I say Bamboletta, I sing it like this:

Bamboletta dolls are made in Canada of local wool and fancy imported Dutch doll cotton. They’re sewn by a collective of women, mostly moms. They are one-of-a-kind, handmade, and apparently very difficult to acquire. They have handmade clothes and specially styled hair and because they are stuffed with wool they’re naturally antibacterial and soak up the smell of home. Each Friday, the Bamboletta ladies upload the dolls they’ve made that week (somewhere between fifty and seventy), and people snap them up instantly. The day I sought out LL’s birthday gift, 4200 people attempted to buy fifty dolls.


Meet Petunia.

It was a case of first time being the charm. Actually, it was a case of their website having a problem and my somehow being lucky enough to work around the glitch and land Petunia. I admit, it was quite the rush. In fact, despite having spent what can only be considered an excessive amount on a doll for a one year old, I find myself returning on Fridays to see if I can at least “cart” (when you land the doll and have five minutes to pay for it) a boy doll for Das Big Boy (I guess I am gendered). So far, no luck. But it’s like gambling (which I don’t enjoy) for hippie parents.

Petunia arrived (after I aggressively stalked her shipping progress on the Canada Post website) looking lovely–the care that goes into the making of these dolls really is impressive–and smelling of a piece of delicious goat’s milk soap that Bamboletta had gifted me. But I decided she should smell like home, so I wore her in a big nursing bra I had from right after LL was born, and slept with the doll between my boobs. Herr Husband found this hilarious-slash-creepy. But then when I brought LL to bed with us to nurse her early in the morning, he had to cuddle Petunia to hide her from LL, so the doll picked up his scent as well. As a final touch, I wrapped Petunia with a dirty tank top that I’d been wearing for two days to ensure she’d really smell like home. (Sidebar, I have found that co-sleeping causes one side of one’s baby’s head to smell like one’s armpit. Discuss.) (Double sidebar: I do not believe my showering frequency has improved since the end of bedrest).


She seems pleased.

Here is Lil Liebchen’s reaction to Petunia. She definitely likes her, particularly her hair, because as I’ve noted previously, LL likes to eat fuzz.

I have grand visions that Petunia and Lil Liebchen will be BFFLs. For now, while happy to stroke Petunia’s locks, she still prefers her “beh-beh,” a Circo doll given to her by her cousins, who were obsessed with these dolls and own like 1000 of them, all named after Das Big Boy in various colors and modifications (one had yellow tattoos, I believe. He was Yellow Das Big Boy.)


The baldness may make them kindred spirits…



I’m strategically offering both dolls now, and allowing Petunia in the crib for maximum hair fondling and bonding. (That sounds awful. Sorry.) And I do believe that Petunia will be the pal I intend her to be. So the moral of this story is not  that you shouldn’t buy fancy hippie dolls for your one-year-old (although if she winds up smearing strawberries on Petunia and staining her, that may be my message). But I believe that your kid’s going to like what he or she is going to like. She’s going to be who she’s going to be. We have some influence, sure. But not as much as we’d like to think. So go forth, Lil Liebchen. Eat your baby’s head. Rub Petunia’s hair. As long as you’re happy, and reasonably safe, I’m happy too.


One Comment on “Suburban Hippie Mom Problems”

  1. Gigi says:

    You also enjoyed eating fuzz! Dog and cat hair and of course, Fuzzy! Not sure that Petunia will totally eclipse Baby tho.

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