we were supposed to go across the great puddle to Nova Scotia this weekend…but we didn’t.

we stayed home. in the rain. no first birthday party for Oscar’s baby cousin, no Cirque du Soleil, no hanging out at the beach on a real-live blog date with the achingly sweet and salty Kate…no gathering with some Belgian beer and our boys, big and little, corporeal and longed-for. no snibbling at the new baby softness of tiny Ben, no watching O chase irrepressible Evan. nope. too much fun for us.

we went to the local Sears though, in the kind of traffic this city only ever sees on a rainy Saturday during the heighth of tourist season. whee.

*********************************************************************

Oscar’s ears or teeth are bugging him and he’s been tippy and cranky and demanding. we’ve just switched him from cow’s milk to soy, in an effort to see whether or not the folk wisdom about dairy and ear infections holds any water…certainly ear infection #1 cropped up just around the time i stopped nursing him and switched him over to cow’s milk, but that was also more or less the time he started going to the sitter’s full time, so really it’s just a shot in the dark, a “hope this will be the healthier choice in the long run” kinda semi-grounded decision that my parenting seems to be rife with. that my living is rife with, now that i mention it…

O’s sitter, who is lovely and kind and apparently far more organized and even-tempered than i will ever be in this life but also has, on some days, six babies and a four year old under her care, mentioned when we picked him up on Thursday for the long weekend that he’s gotten grabby, that he’s not responding to “no,” that he’s fixating on stuff and taking it from the other kids and howling if he doesn’t get sole possession AND NOW.

okay, the emphasis on the last bit is mine. ’cause he’s gotten like this at home, too. and it bites. this morning i introduced him to crayons for the very first time. he wasn’t so keen on their colouring powers, but wow, did he ever want to HOLD each crayon in his grubby little mitts, with no other human hand hovering nearby.

my child has become a junior hostile takeover on short legs.

so i thought, well, he’s growing up as an only child thus far, and so he doesn’t have a lot of experience with sharing or needing to be considerate of others, maybe, other than with Dave and i…and Nannie…and the cat…but clearly these aren’t working. then i had a moment of genius.

we would buy him a doll.

it would be a small creature he could tend to. we could use it to talk about feelings, and he could snuggle it in his arms, and feed it his empty bottle in the morning instead of stuffing the nipple in my mouth (which is cute and all, but i’m not that into soy milk). i was right into this doll, though, right away. i figured at worst it would give him something other than my head to bang on when he wants to identify eyes and noses with his powerful, pointy, not-quite coordinated sticky little fingers.

except, of course, we live in a small city with limited retail availability, and had i actually had coffee before this brainwave short-circuited all my reasoning i would have realized that the chances of finding this wonder-doll anywhere in a town Dave likes to refer to as “this place you brought me too” were slim to none.

because we’re snobs, you see.

i say we, though our snobberies are separate. Dave’s is quite defensible, especially in light of the current massive toy recall. he’d like to buy something local-ish, or handmade, or something about which we could research the conditions of production and be reasonably sure that the people who worked on it were paid a decent wage and were over twelve and preferably not lead paint afficionados.

myself, i think all this is quite right and i want it too. except, well, i want a doll i can like way more. i want a humanoid doll, kinda cute, something more person-like than his cadre of stuffed animals, something smaller than he is. i’m not into the hyperreal “Baby Sucks and Pees” variety of doll, because to me, they do little to inspire love and appeal in small children. i also don’t really want some wool sock with eyes sewn on from the local Farmer’s Market, bless its granola heart, because…well…he already has those and they’re not doing the trick. we looked for a Cabbage Patch doll for him last Christmas, during a brief bee-in-my-bonnet i had about encouraging him to be nurturing…but came up empty. locally, humanoid baby dolls are really only sold in any quantity at Walmart, which we try to avoid like the plague…but i hypocritically and happily sucked up all my semi-grounded qualms and went, only to discover that all the boy Cabbage Patch dolls at our one local purveyor had absolutely terrible names. i am not buying Oscar a little friend who comes with the handle Blayden Mortimer…i wanted to be able to pick one with a nice name. couldn’t. left.

i have a son. he may only own one or two dolls in his childhood, given the gendered nature of consumerism these days, and the implicit pressures that places on children and parents to toe a line. i am likely to be spared the decision of whether to buy Oscar Bratz, and that’s just dandy. but what i do buy him, this doll…i want to enjoy this purchase…it’s special to me. and i want it to be special to him. i whiled away hours of childhood interacting with my dolls, enacting life scenes with them, exploring love and anger and kindness and all sorts of crap that’s lost now to memory but is still there, part of the masonry of the person i became. i want this doll not to poison him and preferably not to come from the sweat of another child’s brow, but mostly…i want it to be a doll he can invest love and trust in. i want it to be a friend.

and i want to enjoy buying/procuring/stealing him his damn friend. is that too much to ask?

*********************************************************************

the Sears trip today was our last local shot. they had a Bob the Builder doll about twice as big as O himself, and some Barbies. no go. plus Oscar screamed the whole trip home in the car, probably because i wouldn’t let him hold onto (read: rend into sharp plastic shards) the hangers of the cheap sleepers i picked up on sale while we were there. because, you know, a boy needs to clutch and destroy hangers when he has no dolly to play with…

oh internets, friends…i turn to you.

tips for a doll for a nearly-sixteen month old boy? an online hand-whittled order from Gepetto would be ideal…but all suggestions very welcome. except those that imply i might consider making the doll myself…see above note on sock puppets.

and…tips for helping same sixteen-month old boy become a little less, erm, acquisitive of all items within sight?

all advice gratefully received.