Just before Callie turned one, my mother gave her a baby doll, and that doll has consistently been Callie's favorite. Her name is Little Girl Baby. (Callie, like her mother, is very "call it what it is.") This doll has endured a lot, like Callie's gnawing on her little plastic hands, but she has also been well-loved. She sleeps with Callie nearly every night, and she goes on all our trips with us.
Last week Callie did something very meaningful. She asked Katie if she would take care of Little Girl Baby while she was at school. Since Katie knows how special LGB is to Callie, she felt quite honored that Callie would ask this of her. She immediately took the doll carefully in her arms and cradled her, smiling as big as she could. Callie knew that this meant a lot to Katie, that it was showing her little sister that she loved and trusted her . . . and that it would give Katie something to do while her big brother and sister were at school. I was really proud of Callie for being so thoughtful. And I was proud of Katie for being such a loving aunt. She made sure to feed LGB, put her down for a nap, and play with her. She even took pictures of LGB with her cousin, Baby Charlie.
This morning before she left for school, Callie swaddled LGB in a tattered pink blanket (the one Callie has had since she was born and which is now really just a pile of pink thread) and handed her over to Katie to care for for the day. It was very sweet.
It doesn't seem like it's been that long ago that my sisters and I were taking care of our own baby dolls and handing them over to their aunts for babysitting. I can remember some of the favorites. Julie had Linda, who had to be treated with extra care, since she was an old doll and could fall apart at any moment. My favorite was Alisha, a baby who had velvety skin and pretty blue eyes that opened and closed and had stiff black lashes. I guess I don't particularly remember Christy's and Laurie's favorites. We all took care of them, though. We would take them for car rides, using the couch as our car. I'm pretty sure Julie always got to drive, since she's the oldest. Many times we ended up at Claire's Restaurant (a.k.a. my mother's kitchen) for dinner. Once we even held a doll show in our backyard. We invited the other girls in our neighborhood to bring their dolls, and my grandparents were the judges.
Today my sisters and I live in four different states, but we still love on and take care of each other's babies. We call each other when we're feeling frustrated or worn out from motherhood and no longer have the luxury of putting the babies down to go play something else whenever we feel like it. We now pray for each other as we are raising these little ones, who don't stay little for long. We also like to tell each other's kids what their mommies used to do when they were little, which usually gets a few giggles. And of course, we like to point out to each other when our children are acting just as we did . . . or still do.
Being an aunt, whether it's to a baby doll or to a real live human being, is a big responsibility. I'm glad my girls are practicing now, and it's fun to imagine how they'll be with their own real babies one day. Of course, that would mean I was a grandmother . . .