My brother-in-law, Matthew, is many things. A newspaper reporter, a skilled photographer, a father, a jokester. And after he shared his observations from his son’s first year, we all begged for more of his funny take on parenting. He delivered, and this romantic tale was worth the wait! Enjoy, y’all.
From across the room their eyes meet in cliché fashion.
His bright blue eyes and her painted-on stare both seem to brighten.
Her arms spread wide while he scurries across the floor to throw
himself on top of her.
He smothers her with one large kiss while patting her face. After the
quick embrace, he comes up with a big smile before pulling her hair
into his mouth and taking an unexpected bite into her scalp.
This scene details the daily love affair of my son with his Cabbage
Patch Kid – Lucille 3.
A lil’ bit of history
Cabbage Patch Kids are the well-known 1980s doll started by Xavier
Roberts in the late 70s that even boys like me partook of. A trademark
of Roberts' is tattooing his name on the butt of each doll. I'm
guessing he's trying to be cheeky.
Stephanie, my wife and a kindergarten teacher, inherited our doll
through the grapevine along with several others. We wanted our son to
love other babies, so we began trying him out on different-sized ones.
First was a WASP-y guy who looks a lot like Flat Stanley. We named him
Max and he was a hit but eventually misplaced.
We sought a replacement baby. One day Lucille, then known as anonymous
doll number 3, was pulled out for our niece to play with but our boy
was instantly drawn to Lucille.
The hype for the fourth season of “Arrested Development” was on and
led us to name the doll after Jessica Walter's Lucille Bluth and Liza
Minelli's Lucille Austero, or Lucille 2. If this sounds wacky, do us a
favor and just watch the show. Hilarious!
Another member of the family
With a prompt, our son will feverishly look for Lucille.
“Where's your baby?”
He'll stop everything just to search her out for a quick peck, or
10-second make out session. For the record, he is an open-mouth
kisser, so it all could be exaggerated or a show for our “benefit.”
But Lucille has already been integrated into our family as if she's my
We recently took a vacation south of the border and planned to bring a
smaller baby doll, but our son wanted no part of those other babies.
He wanted his special lady.
So I obliged and brought her in my carry-on with her legs up next to
her face to save space. Lucille even threw off a ticket handler coming
home. She asked if I had an infant with me before she looked up and
did a double take and pointed to Lucille.
“She's new to the family,” I said.
In the car, he could be fussing for a few minutes before we realize
Lucille isn't sitting there beside or on him. We hand back Lucille and
a happy squeal and hair-munching moment later our son has gone from
being a fussy-pants to a fun human being again.
We've even dressed her in newborn clothes, as if her original,
unfashionable 1980s dress wasn't enough. Where we go as a family, so
does Lucille. We want her to look her best, which includes hair bands
and nice braids.
In their months of being together, Lucille has become our son's best
companion. His friend. His girlfriend, I suppose.
Their relationship has already gone to the next level. He laughs with
her, plays with her and even confides in her.
When we tell him no, which he isn't a fan of, he'll storm over to her
and bury his head into her tummy for comfort.
“My mom is such a bitch,” he might be saying.
Sexism aside, Lucille can do no wrong. Another game he enjoys in the
car is seeing her do karate kicks and body slamming her from the
passenger seat head rest, gently of course. But kudos to him, I love a
woman who could kick my ass, too.
At one, he's already showing signs of being an overly sensitive teenager.
Plenty of people with teenagers like to remind us that they grow up
fast and into “this” pointing to unruly teens. But, I'm looking
forward to it. Honestly.
Dropping the dolls
When we first discussed our boy having a doll I was reluctant. It
seemed too effeminate for him to play with babies or dolls but I
quickly ate my own words and stereotypes. I had a multitude of toys in
my toy chest as a kid from He-Man to She-Ra to My Little Pony to
Cabbage Patch Kids to any one of the few female members of G.I. Joe's
To this day, I have a special space for comic books and action
figures. Sadly, if you call them dolls I feel a need to correct you
but it's like a nerdy nervous tick.
Regardless, my son needs exposure to all types of people and
experiences in this world, including babies, ponies and glitter. It's
hard to admit to my stupidity, but now seeing him with Lucille is
honestly one of the best joys of my day.
They might be moving a little fast though. Some might object to the
fact that they are sleeping together now. To which I reply, “At least
I won't need to worry about being a granddad.”
How long the Lucille phase will last is unknown. I imagine he'll try
out more and more new toys and dolls and action figures for fun. But
she might stand the test of childhood.
Maybe she'll be that comfort blanket for him, and we'll have her for years.
Maybe she'll become tattered or go bald or break somehow.
But if my son wants to have Lucille by his side, I'll make sure she's there.