Lately, I have been seeking, trying to be open minded, questioning, curious regarding Waldorf dolls. I've been reading this. The thing about it is, I am attracted to the beauty of these dolls. But why does my kid almost always prefer the very formed, little-left-to-the-imagination plastic babies? She has never received one from me, but grandparents, in their attempts to delight their grandchild, have given her plenty of those types of dolls. She has too many. I try to take them away, and like many toys that get left in the basement bags to be given to Goodwill (since they're not good enough for my kid, they'll be good enough for someone else's...hmph) they inevitably find their way back to the play areas of the house. Then that means I have not treated a doll-one my daughter has cared for, looked after, imaginatively played with- as the image of a human being, deserving of respect and a rightful place in the home. She has already claimed this doll for herself, as herself...a doll Steiner says is ugly.
I am exploring this. I do tend to shun things that are dogmatic just for dogma's sake, and perhaps after further inquiry I will come away with a different viewpoint. My questions are: why do children seem to prefer the realistic looking plastic baby dolls? How does it harm a child's imagination? How is it artistic to uphold only one way of making a Waldorf doll? (in that question, I am referring to the "style" of doll that is considered a Waldorf doll. There is very little variation in their basic form and look. I would like to explore other simple dolls that fall into the Waldorf principles, for I see it as being materialistic to have just one way of doing it...and perhaps I am being materialistic to have to have "proof" about the whole doll thing. But I digress.) Wouldn't a simpler doll sewn from cotton be closer to the point?
I played with Barbies as a child, and remember all the different things the Barbies did. I had imagination. Barbie was even fat in my imagination. Her clothes didn't always fit her strange anatomy anyway. I know I am spouting off the same responses others have had about this doll business, but I do think it is important to have good answers and reasons for doing something. So, this is my journey, foremost as a parent, and it will inform my work as a teacher.
A few things I do agree with. I do believe dolls are an extension of ourselves, and children especially imprint on a doll as such. So, I do tend to be militant at home when I see babies casually thrown around instead of in their beds or "visiting" each other. They must have clothes or a blanket. This is modeling self-care to a child. I do believe a doll made by a parent is so much better than any doll you could get anywhere, even if the doll made is so incredibly simple. A return to the values of simplicity requires that we give up a certain amount of worship of the manufactured item, and give credence to something made with the heart.
I read in Farmer Boy about Almonzo's Christmas and how he was so excited to receive a pair of socks that were store-bought, not made. I thought it was kind of sad that here he had such a rich life...full of reliance on himself and family, and his mother worked so hard to supply her family with their basic needs, and he reveled in a pair of store-bought socks. I'm sure it was the novelty.
So, in weeks ahead, I hope to update about my searching and inner work, and hope my journey and vulnerability might help someone else having these same questions.
By the way, Waldorf is not a religion, so I do not believe I am being heretical in any way. Steiner espoused doing things out of freedom in order to live the regretless life. But, there is an element of dogma in the whole movement, so I was referring to that. The dogma, for me, does not ruin or discredit in any way the fabulous system of education Waldorf is. Maybe I am just feeling especially fearless right now!