The Lost Doll Part I

Painting 'The Lost Doll'

‘The Lost Doll’ painted by Tom Lovell

“My child is inconsolable. Please can you help me?” About once a month we get these desperate calls. A child has lost a beloved doll.

Or like this email from just after Christmas:

“You guys are life savers. My daughter had one of your cloth dolls that was left in a rental car. She has cried for 4 days. Continue with the business of doll making. Your dolls are so darling. I am certain that she will cherish this new one forever.”

We had the right African American rag doll in our store; order placed and doll delivered… Happy Ending.

But not all lost baby doll stories have happy endings, unfortunately, throughout our years in the doll industry, we’ve heard lots of sad stories about ‘The Lost Doll.’

‘Little lost dolly’ is not a new phenomena, here’s a somewhat famous poem called ‘The Lost Doll’ written by the English poet Charles Kingsley over a hundred years ago:

I once had a sweet little doll, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world;
Her cheeks were so red and white, dears,
And her hair was so charmingly curled.
But I lost my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day;
And I cried for her more than a week, dears,
But I never could find where she lay.

I found my poor little doll, dears,
As I played in the heath one day;
Folks say she is terribly changed, dears,
For her paint is all washed away,
And her arms trodden off by the cows, dears,
And her hair not the least bit curled;
Yet for old sakes’ sake, she is still, dears,
The prettiest doll in the world.

Next week in part two, we’ll offer some advice on what to do if your child loses a her favorite doll.

The Lost Doll Part II

In a previous post we talked about a common misfortune that befalls children… the little lost doll. This week we’d like to offer some advice on how to handle it:

If you’re the parent of a desperately unhappy child, what can you do?

  • Try to recognize how much of the child’s anguish you have caused by your reaction. Like if you’ve gone OMG! ballistic and frantic… your child is going to ramp it up as well. So step one – calm down. Don’t let your panic, anxiety or guilt roll over onto the child; do a due diligence search with the child to see if you can find the lost doll, and then as quickly as possible,
  • Find a suitable substitute fast – transfer the child’s attachment to a new lovey. It doesn’t have to be exact! It just has to be suitable to the child. Many a time we’ve offered “Lovey’s little sister,” or Boo-Boo Bear’s brother has come for a visit…his name is Boo Boo Panda”, or even a complete replacement… “The Cat in the Hat heard you lost ‘Fuffy Cat’ and wanted to come play with you instead.”  You’d be surprised how often these substitutions, when offered in a calm and reasonable presentation, end up working out just fine!
The Cat in the Hat plush character doll

The Cat in the Hat plush character doll

Once your world finally settles back down, here are a couple of additional suggestions:

  • Teach your child to have different favorites for different things, like a bedtime favorite that stays with the bed, and a playtime favorite that can go in the car!
  • Have an agreed upon ‘Little Miss Back-up’ lovey that keeps your child company when Number One Lovey goes in the wash.
  • If you see a child is really, really attached to a particular doll, teddy or lovey, buy a second one now before there’s a problem.

The Lost Doll Part III – Edward Tulane

In my previous posts I talked about one of the very few downsides of being in the doll business… the fact that children love their dolls so passionately, and the sad fact that occasionally they get lost, and that very often we can do nothing to alleviate the child’s pain.

In today’s post, however, I would like to introduce you to our favorite ‘lost doll story:’  the wonderful book written by Kate DiCamillo, with the beautiful illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

Edward Tulane

the china rabbit doll known as Edward Tulane

If you are not familiar with the story, Edward is a China Rabbit doll, who is accidentally lost at sea, eventually resurfaces, and his many miraculous adventures as he passes from hand to hand over the next twenty years. It is an enchanting story, and one of our favorite ‘Dolls in Literature’ books ever, for the story is told from the point of view of the doll.