Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Paperdoll Worlds

I loved paperdolls as a child.  I thought they were the most precious things.  My mother tore out Betsy McCall's page from her monthly McCall’s magazine for me and I spent many afternoons on the braided rug in the living room, legs folded under, painstakingly clipping Betsy's dainty dresses with the fastening tabs.  Later, I graduated to Barbie paperdolls and then bride paperdolls that were so romantic and pretty, the dresses so exquisite and lacey - all the stuff of  little girls' dreams.  

I kept my dolls in a dented and chipped round metal cookie tin - a big cheery jumble of paper dresses, sweaters and skirts, coats, knee sox and patent leather shoes.  After I dressed my dolls, I made up conversations between them and trotted them off to make-believe parties and weddings where they would live happily ever after...forevermore...amen.  My plans for my dolls were as expansive as my fantasies.  I never had a friend who loved paperdolls with the same fervor until I met Kay, 40 years later.  Not that Kay and I actually played with paperdolls as grown single mothers - but we rejoiced the day we discovered we were both mad for them as girls.
Not only did Kay play with paperdolls but she drew her own.  She vividly remembers drawing a bride paper doll and a groom.  She was playing with them on a dock at her aunt and uncle’s cottage on Chesapeake Bay when a wind blew them into the water. Her uncle saved the day by fishing them out with a crab net, so beloved were they to her.
I read recently that empty nesters should ask themselves who they were when they were ten years old.  The theory is to recapture childhood passions and use them as a launch pad to discover what one should do when intense parenting is over.  I won't be clipping paperdolls from magazines anytime soon but I have been thinking a lot about what things will sustain me and feed my soul in the future.  Lately, I've been re-reading some classic childhood storybooks such as The Little Princess and Little Women.  I already know that books will always have a place in my life and after revisiting old favorites as an grown-up, I've observed that the very best children's books can be appreciated at any age.  But reading will not be enough.
Kay is a gifted image consultant and states that her clients are like grown-up paperdolls to her - she loves dressing and accessorizing them.  Perhaps her gift was born of all those happy hours spent on a braided rug at her house - or on a wooden dock.  As for me, I would love to have a peek inside that old beat-up cookie tin again.  Even better, find some new passions...but only ones that are as engrossing and thrilling as a paperdoll world.  
Come back when you grow up, girl
You've still got a lotta time left in the world
You'll some day be a woman ready to love
Come back, baby, when you grow up
Come back when you grow up, girl
You're still livin' in a paper-doll world
Livin' ain't easy, lovin's twice as tough
So come back, baby, when you grow up
~Bobby Vee


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