Telling: Altars & Artifacts


playing with dolls

For christmas this year, all four boys (3 kids and 1 dad) got "Ultimate Soldiers". These are barbie sized fighting men with lots of accessories, weaponry and uniforms. The four of them will sit for hours, changing boots and hats and automatic rifles. Watt keeps saying, "We need a barbie for mama so she can be the nurse." He says it to goad me, and it works.

"No way. I don't want any barbie girl. And I never would be the nurse anyway. Jacob's the medic, you don't need a nurse." And when that doesn't fly I threaten, "I'd be a peace protester, I'd just stick flowers in your guns and gum up the works."

This weekend, for Valentine's day, Watt came home with a Barbie in a wheel chair for me and new weapons for all the soldiers. Happy Valentine's day. Ok. Fine. One thing I know is when someone gives you a present you say thank you and try to like it. So I took the doll and admired her hair which is just the color of Tucker's. Watt laughed when he caught me brushing it. He hadn't expected me to accept the gift and thought he'd get himself a wheelchair out of the deal. Realizing that made me mad. I don't like to be toyed with. If he wanted the darn thing he should have just been honest about it and bought it for himself. But he didn't. He presented it as a gift to me and put me on the spot. I didn't want to be rude and reject it, but I wasn't going to let him squeeze me into some girly slot either. I outfitted "Becky" with soldier-abilia that the boys offered to share, a canteen, a grenade, a helmet a knife stuck down in her combat boot. If I had to have a Barbie I was going to make her one tough cookie. Then Tucker took her and started to dress and undress her which upset Gus and Jake. "Give her back to mom." But I didn't mind because really, I was finished. I'd plumbed the depths and had enough. I weazled my way out by going to make lunch.

Now all weekendlong the boys keep saying, "Let's play ultimate soldiers, come on mom." I've lost my graceful out. Now we've all got to come to grips with the fact that, I, the sole female in this house, am the only one who can't stand playing with dolls.

A Mother's Journal

field notes from
1997 - 1999