But don’t you have any babies that look like us?

snowbranchSay it in that voice that certain small-minded affluent white helicopter-type moms use. The voice that always makes me have to bite my tongue and sit on my hands. If I haven’t been able to avoid the person altogether by ducking into the pasta aisle.

I am not good at writing posts like this about touchy subjects, so I’ll undoubtedly step in it somewhere along the line. But it’s the laziest Sunday ever and This American Life was rumbling along and I started to pay attention to what turned out to be quite a disturbing story. One that parallels an incident in my own life. So I have to try. Bear with me here.

It was a toy story. FAO Schwartz had some sort of newborn baby dolls for sale adoption. They were displayed in a hospital nursery setting and employees who acted as nurses would facilitate the sale adoption, asking the little girls (or boys or whatever) things like, “Will you love the baby?” and “Will you read to the baby?”. One day a couple of cool kids from MTV came along and adopted a baby and they talked about it on MTV and pretty soon every [affluent white] mom in the city was in there buying adopting a baby for her daughter and guess what happened? Well, of course! They ran out of white babies!

Problem. Sshhh! These dolls were still all the rage but nobody wanted to adopt asian or hispanic or black babies. Some of the moms would dance and fumble around trying to come up for a politically correct question for, “where are the white babies?”. Like, “Um, do you have a baby that looks like us?” Others would just barge in and ask, “where are the white babies?”

Sigh. Light-years ago there was such a thing as a Cabbage Patch doll. I don’t know why I thought my cute little blonde 3-year-old daughter needed a Cabbage Patch doll. Maybe because every other little girl on earth seemed to have one? Or maybe I just felt like burning money. And that makes me no different than the people I am complaining about [sigh]. Anyway, Leona Millie didn’t come from a fancy nursery with a nurse to facilitate the sale adoption. I dunno, maybe she would have if we had gotten her at FAO Schwartz. But we were at the old Toys R Us store over in Arborland. Leona Millie was in a box on a shelf. My cute little blonde urchin carefully checked out all the dolls and specifically picked out Leona Millie. There was no “nurse” around to ask stuff like, “Will you love the baby?”. Who *was* there was a pimply-faced checkout dude who, when we put our beloved new black baby on the conveyor belt, looked at me and asked, “Is this yours?”

10 Responses to “But don’t you have any babies that look like us?”

  1. jane Says:

    I LOVE THIS! I love that your kid wanted the doll that they wanted, not just one that looked like them.

    as for the moms who only wanted white babies – shame on them! just what lesson does this teach? I suppose it’s just like the song from South Pacific – “You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught”.

  2. Dog Mom Says:

    Seconding Jane’s comment! My kiddos weren’t particularly into dolls to begin with (er, maybe my fault? I never was a “doll person”, so it was hard for me to purchase “people dolls” for The Girlz… so much easier buying penguin dolls and bear dolls, donchaknow?? Esp when those were the dolls the kids wanted-LOL).

  3. isa Says:

    for some reason i remember getting leona millie a little differently… i remember opening her on christmas and thinking she had been delivered to the wrong house. but i’d also believe that i picked her out at the store. i was that kind of kid, i think? maybe i picked her out at the store and then she was wrapped by mom (i mean santa), and put under the christmas tree. i think she’s still next to my bed at home… along with “pink baby” and “orange baby.” funny that the only doll with a real name, rather than a color title, is the one who didn’t “look like me.”

  4. Margaret Says:

    Both of my girls were way more interested in dolls that didn’t look like them more than ones that did. So, now I end up with a kid who wants to travel the world. Wah.

  5. gg Says:

    I remember…
    taking Elizabeth for a walk with Leona Millie in a baby stroller.
    We passed a yard with a couple little black children…
    the little black girl’s eyes bugged out and she said…
    “What a nice baby!”

    Kids R Fun

  6. l4827 Says:

    Which leads to the question, when do children recognize racial differences? Are the moms choosing the “adopted” babies or are the children choosing the “adopted” babies? Is the U.S. becoming more diverse or just quoting verse?

  7. Pooh Says:

    One of the activities we did with the cub scouts involved making Santas out of felt. I had carefully bought the appropriate number of felt square in each color. At one point I heard, “there isn’t any more black.” I went to check this out, and saw that one of the kids had made his Santa with a face that “looked like him”, and he was black. So we made boots and belt out of another color. I felt (no pun intended) chagrinned that I had not thought to splurge on several different skin tones of felt, instead of just the one that matched my perceptions of Santa.

  8. kayak woman Says:

    And Pooh’s comment brings up yet another issue. Schools and scouts, etc., stopped doing Christmas here on the planet ann arbor sometime during my kids’ school years. Too many non-Christian kids.

    I am cool with this overall. But I can’t help remembering the kids’ rather old-school kindergarten teacher — a Jewish woman — busting out the Christmas projects in December. Construction paper and glue and glitter and the whole works. She’d be right in the middle of it all with the kids. Your kids don’t do Christmas? No problem, out comes Hannukah colors and themes. (Or whatever.)

    *Yes*, I *know*. Hannukah is *not* the Jewish Christmas. Hey, I read. *And* I have some close friends who happen to keep kosher kitchens.

    But this teacher obviously loved the kids and you can’t knock that kind of spirit.

  9. grandmothertrucker Says:

    Donny got a Draedle ( Jewish spinning top ) from his Jewish Kindergarten teacher in Royal Oak ( 87″ ? ). He still has that too….. he saved everything I think….. The boys had their “guy dolls”, and they were all different colors. I don’t think any of them were caucasian, they were wierd, cat, mummy, gooey and stretchy…..

    Oh yes…. For Donnys first birthday, I walked through Toys-R-Us with him, and I was looking at the Cabbage Patch almost empty shelf, ( noticing their were only black ones left ), and I turned around to find my son grabbed a newborn (white) doll right out of the box with the bottle, and was feeding it in the store. He still has that too.

    My first grandchild was Asian. She was a computer baby from Don’s Adult Life Class in High School. ( Imagine my surprise when my high school son called me to tell me my first grandchild was an Asian girl… he wasn’t even dating anybody….. We had her for a week I think…. A+ grade.

  10. Dog Mom Says:

    My own nursery school was in a Jewish Temple, and I have memories of learning how to properly pronounce “Channukah”, doing the dreidl song, and being introduced to a number of Jewish traditions. I loved my teacher – and I loved being at that school! Beautiful building inside and out.

    Miss Rica was foreign-born – don’t recall if Belgian or Morroccan – and I suppose her first language was French: we were taught songs in French as well as in Hebrew (too bad I don’t have but the faintest memories of the songs). Covered a lot of cultural ground for being a 3-4 year old!