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I Never Played With Dolls

Updated: Nov 6, 2023


All this hoopla over a recently-released movie about - of all things - an iconic toy that every one of my childhood friends owned (in multiples) has triggered memories I never thought would re-surface. At the time, I thought this fad was absolutely absurd - and I still think so! I’ve got nothing against the movie. Apparently it is making oodles of money, and that’s fine with me. Hollywood is going through a tough time and could use the money. (But Toy Story, in all its iterations, is much more to my taste than Barbie.)


Just to set the record straight: I did own several dolls as a child. But that was because people kept giving them to me, apparently on the premise that I was a female child, with no brothers and sisters, and therefore must be lonely.


WRONG!!


I was far more interested in real babies than inanimate dolls, and those toys simply collected dust for my entire childhood until my mother finally gave them the heave-ho when I shipped off for college.


I freely admit that my obsession with babies started young, and grew with every passing year. I was convinced that I was placed on this earth to be a mother, and I remain so to this day. So the logical preparation for this role was to babysit.


My first babysitting gig was for a newborn baby when I was only nine years old! Even at the time I thought this was a recipe for disaster, but the parents were anxious to spend some time alone together (and apparently didn’t have much common sense! )


That first job eventually developed into a thriving babysitting business of 3-4 gigs per week. I was in high demand and probably made more than my classmates who all went the route of waiting on cars at the fifties and sixties drive-in dives. My parents - seizing on the assumption that I was now self-supporting, cancelled my allowance and informed me that I was now responsible for my own wardrobe expenses. Everything was going smoothly until my dad abruptly changed jobs in the middle of my junior year in high school, thus cancelling my thriving babysitting business, and my independent income. (The job was a dud and my allowance never was restored.) I left for college armed with several scholarships and work-study contracts, but no access to funds for a much-needed new wardrobe.


In the end, it really didn’t matter (except to my ego) because it was a f-ing women’s college, and nobody to dress up for anyway!


Now where was I?


Oh, yes, kids.


All those years of babysitting gave me the confidence that I had chosen the right path. But there was one pretty substantial problem: I graduated from high school, having never had a date - or even so much as a decent conversation - with a member of the opposite sex. And the nail in the coffin was that my parents insisted I go to the women’s college of their choice. This posed a very serious impediment in my quest to become a mother: if I had no idea how to behave around men - let alone get one to marry me - how was I going to ever become a mother?


I still have no idea why they insisted on a women’s college for me, but I do know that it was absolutely the worst place I needed to be to succeed in my quest to be a mother. There followed several years of changing colleges, hippiedom, yearly summer stock experience, and an epic USO Tour (https://www.shebbyleetours.com/post/my-brush-with-fame).


I even managed to get married, and that was the biggest shock of all, because neither one of us was contemplating marriage at the time. It just kind of happened. And it lasted for twenty years, with three kids (I wanted more; he didn’t. Only one of several differences of opinion over the years).


Perhaps, this is the time to explain that we adopted our entire family. You see, in the early seventies there was a shortage of qualified Native American families eligible to adopt Native babies. My husband was part Sioux and part Cherokee, so we qualified (despite me), and every time we adopted a baby the family blood quantum increased. And for years we received phone calls asking if we wouldn’t take just one more baby? They REALLY wanted us to adopt more kids. I was thrilled, and always said yes. He was underwhelmed and vetoed the idea.


So we were officially a family of five. Fast forward to today, and I now have two granddaughters, who have given me five great-grandchildren - all girls, except for the youngest: my very first grandson!


Life is Good!




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