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Wanna’ Come Play?

screen-shot-2016-12-01-at-7-41-26-amRuth, age seven, and I sat in the middle of a bedroom floor to empty a box labeled ‘Susan’s dolls.’ “Gran, look! She doesn’t have a leg. I bet Pop can fix it,” said my Grand. She held a one-legged Barbie. We rummaged through the box and found Barbie’s leg. Pop, aka Husband, can fix most everything, but not a 1950’s Barbie that I’d played with all those years ago.

Other Barbies were perfect, except for their hair. “How about I just cut it?” Ruth asked as she tried to pull a comb through one doll’s hair. I suggested that she comb the ends of Barbie’s hair first to get the rat’s nest out.

My Grand tossed Barbie onto the floor. “Rat’s nest! A rat did this?” I chuckled and explained that it’s just a saying that means a tangled mess and my dad used to say my hair was a rat’s nest. With patience, Ruth combed Barbie’s hair until it hung straight.

I was a bit taken back when I discovered Barbie clothes. Clothes my mother had made. A pink nightgown and robe. Knit tops and skirts. A blue sundress trimmed with white lace. “These smell yucky,” Ruth said.

My Grand helped me find a shelf to display two antique dolls that had been handed down to me. And we cut one doll’s hair that was beyond repair and scrubbed two bald-headed baby dolls with Soft Scrub and Baby Wipes until they no longer felt gummy.

From a box with a cellophane front, we unpacked a two-foot doll, wearing white plastic sling-back high heels, a pink taffeta dress, and lace gloves. “She was the last doll I got for Christmas and she stood on top of my piano in my bedroom. I never played with her. She was just to look at,” I said. Ruth asked why I didn’t play with her. Why, indeed?

“Gran, I think these clothes will fit Samantha,” Ruth held a red corduroy jacket, a dress, pajamas, and more. “Can I take them home?” We made a plan that the next time she visited she’d bring Samantha, her American Girl doll, and try on the clothes.

The afternoon slipped away while Ruth and I played. Two days later when her family came for supper, she brought Samantha and ran straight upstairs. All the doll clothes had been washed and lay in the room where Ruth and her younger sister would sleep that night.

A bit later, Ruth ran to me and whispered in my ear, “Almost all those clothes fit Samantha just right.” My Grand’s eyes sparkled. I hugged her. She whispered, “That fancy doll’s clothes and Barbie’s smell better. Wanna’ come play?”

I did, but I said, “Another time, okay? It’s time to eat supper.”

My Grand’s face fell and then she asked, “Just me and you? One whole afternoon? Okay?” I agreed.

When I packed my dolls away so long ago, I didn’t know it’d be even more fun this time around.

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