In the 1980s, dolls were one of my major preoccupations: Tiny Tears, who were fed with a fake bottle of milk that then made the prosthetic prosthesis cry fake tears, then Barbie, who had the kind of figure that I hoped to someday develop but sadly never did, and my ultimate love: Cabbage Patch Kids, which after a long hiatus is said by toy makers to be making a comeback. Apparently, their innocence and embrace makes them irresistible to children again.
I remember purchasing one with great joy at Leisure World, the ultimate crowded toy store and zenith of excitement for children on Queen’s Street in Belfast, long sadly long gone from the cityscape.
I had a pale lavender colored My Little Pony that smelled of vanilla ice cream and had neon pink hair in my pocket, but while my brother was out looking for Power Rangers, Scalextric, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures, I fell in love with this doll with a face like a cheerful ball of dough, woolen hair, a little upturned nose, adorable wide eyes and, most importantly, outstretched arms that seemed to implore a monumental love hug.
Apparently once nicknamed “the pot of the toy industry” – because parents would hate their piggy and needy traits (well not mine) while the kids loved them – each Cabbage Patch Kid was unique and came with their own birth and adoption certificate. So becoming the mother of a Cabbage Patch Kid naturally attracted my six-year-old self; what about little girls who want to imitate the maternal instinct?
Anyway, I loved to hug mine, although for the life of me I can’t remember the name I gave her, and her cutesy outfits and dresses and her ever-outstretched arms were a source of unadulterated comfort. Cabbage Patch Kids were chubby and vulnerable and I just wanted to lug the poor man around and mother him, although it became problematic on long car trips and when he was missing from the back of the couch or among other piles of toys (my bedroom could have been designed by Tracey Emin only with hideous’ 80s woodchip wallpaper).
If I was upset I would give him a hug and feel better. Tiny Tears and Barbie didn’t have the same possibility of a soft, warm, fuzzy embrace.
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