By COLLEEN LEDDY
I walked back into the living room late Monday night and yelped when I noticed incriminating evidence: Maddie’s well-loved (i.e. old, hand-me-down, permanently stained) baby doll and the hot pink Boohbah lying together on the couch.
“Ayy! I better put them back quick!” I thought. “If David sees them he’s gonna know I’ve been Skyping with Caroline and Rosie instead of proofreading stories.”
Actually, we were on FaceTime on the ipad, not Skyping. Either way, I love using the ipad when videochatting with Caroline. It allows us the freedom to take tours around the house so she remembers who we are as she connects us with where we live...a kind of visual “Hey! You know us! Remember your wacky lady? And here’s Mama and Aunt Maddie and Uncle Ben.”
Caroline has three sets of grandparents, one set of great-grandparents and another great-grandmother and great-grandfather—it’s never too early to get the “who’s who” straight.
She gets excited when the baby doll makes an appearance in our FaceTime sessions; she smiles broadly and enthusiastically waves at it. And the Boohbah equally captures her attention—especially when it’s activated to do its little song and dance, rising up and swirling its head to the music, making bizarre high-pitched noises.
It’s probably the weirdest thing in our house, with its bald head, lashless painted-on huge eyes, a bump of a nose, no mouth, five dots each for eyebrows, star shaped hands emerging from tiny pink arms, and rotund body, but Caroline appreciates it—fitting since her own mother bought it while Black Friday shopping with friends in high school.
It’s kind of space age looking—as much as a pile of pink polyester fluffy fabric can look space age-y. More than its looks, it’s the high-pitched squeal it emits after doing its dance—five or six seconds later. That latent noise coupled with its overall bizarre appearance just seems other-worldly. Google it if you haven’t already seen them on the PBS kid show.
I added the Wendell Glaser rooster painting to the FaceTime rounds Monday night, but forgot about the goose Chris Wood painted years ago. And, I just realized I’ve never panned the collection of Christmas ornaments sitting atop a bookshelf—the big fat hen, Bantam rooster, parrot, ostrich—another parrot Ben brought back from Brazil and an elegant wood sculpture of a heron.
We feature the soft sculpture wild woman (her lady) on every tour. Since she was tiny, Caroline has loved its white and black polka dot arms, black and white striped legs, and the hodgepodge splashes of color on its triangular trunk.
She delights in seeing the charcoal portrait of Ben, Rosie and Maddie drawn by a Chinese immigrant in Central Park during spring break, 1995. I still hear my mother telling him to adjust his depiction of Maddy because he made her look too old.
“She’s only seven! You make her look 17!”
Somehow, we all missed how he made Ben look slightly evil and how they all look slightly Chinese. It doesn’t matter to Caroline—she reaches out to touch her Mama; she sees the resemblance.
She likes to look at each of Ben, Rosie and Maddie’s high school senior portraits, and always gets excited when she sees Rosie’s.
I included the Nok Hockey board hanging on the wall near the senior portraits in the tour and instantly regretted it.
“We’ll have to make that disappear,” I told Rosie. “She’ll want to play with it and she’s bound to hurt herself on the sticks.”
Maddie’s new penguin pillow is an attraction, but I’m not sure I should show Caroline the Matryoshka dolls Bob and Jackie brought back from Poland for Rosie and Maddie. She’s usually transfixed to see each doll inside another, but I’m afraid she’s going to want to put them and their questionable paint in her mouth.
Caroline and Rosie are coming for a visit in a few weeks so a whole new round of babyproofing is in order. That’s OK. I’m sure I’ll enjoy it way more than proofreading.