Yesterday, while doing my daily morning dishes, I paused to peek around the corner to check on Fae, and found her peacefully sitting in front of her book-basket, looking at a book with her doll.
This past month has been highlighted with glimpses of Fae developing a relationship with this doll. Last August I ordered a custom-made Waldorf doll for her. I chose the Waldorf style because I love how its simplicity is intended to encourage imagination and creativity. These dolls are made from only natural materials (cotton fabric stuffed with wool with either wool or cotton hair); they’re made using very traditional doll-making techniques, and it’s easy to find hand-made versions of them–or even a kit to make your own. These dolls have blank expressions on their faces (or are intended to) so as to take upon themselves any emotions or moods the child may project onto them. Rudolf Steiner (creator of Waldorf education) believed that if a child is given a doll with exquisite details and character, it would leave nothing for the child’s mind to do.
I gave the doll to Fae on her first birthday. She hugged it and seemed pleased. (This was actually her second Waldorf-style doll; I had gotten her a small Kathe Kruse doll at Christmastime.) Since her birthday she’s occasionally played with her new Waldorf doll–in the same way that she’d play with her other simple toys. But something’s drastically changed over this past month. The doll’s become her companion.
Fae’s doll is now often tucked in the elbow of her right arm. Instead of just walking around with it, hugging it and saying “aww doll,” she’s now (we assume) having it talk back to her (in a higher voice). She has full conversations with it. She’ll bring her doll around the house with her, stopping to make it gaze out the window, or dance, or walk around on the ground, or sit in a chair. Her doll has eaten a few meals with us, come on a walk, snuggled with Fae as she nursed, and hung-out in bed with us during our pre-bed family time.
This is really exciting for me to watch. Fae has entered into imaginative play. She began to pretend talking on a phone (a wooden block, a remote control, or even my bra strap clip) a few months ago, and has since been experiencing her daily life in a new (imaginative) way. We’ve noticed that she now just has things to do–things that are important for her to do.
Fae’s been flopping around on the floor as The Beatles play in the background. She’s now using her Easter basket to carry around some of her things.