The first time I went to the DaddyDolls.com website, I have to admit, I thought they were creepy.
They’re these dolls with real people’s photos on them, staring blankly at the world and smiling while the children who own them mercilessly abuse them. I guess I could see why people used them for kids whose parents deployed, but how much difference could a little doll really make?
I jokingly showed the website to my husband, trying to keep a straight face while I pretended I was going to order one for our son. But the joke was on me, because my husband immediately agreed to do it. I was shocked. Why would a macho, rugged Navy chief agree to be immortalized on a tiny, stuffed punching bag?
I had a lot to learn about the man I married and the lengths he would go to to be a part of his child’s life. He was just weeks away from deploying, himself, and sadly our son – who was only three months old – was very likely to forget his dad altogether.
So my husband, a man who despises getting his picture taken, posed for the Daddy Doll photo. And he didn’t just pose for the front of the doll. He even let me take a full length picture of his backside.
He winced a little when the doll came in the mail. There it was, ready for playtime, with his face as clear as crystal on the front.
In the months that followed, my son tenderly caressed his Daddy Doll every night… Just kidding. Daddy Doll was subject to the same abuse as all my little man’s toys. He chewed on Daddy’s head. He dropped him in the mud. We lost him under the crib in the dust. More than once, Daddy got chucked across the room at Grandpa.
And that is how Daddy Doll won me over. I came to love the strange little toy.
Something as simple as a pillow-like doll with my husband’s face on it made him a part of every day, no matter the thousands of miles between us. Sure, we had photos, videos and –the rare times the connection was good enough – Skype. But Daddy Doll was something my son could hold. He could play with it. He could drag it to the store. And when the real Daddy came home a year later, my son knew his face instantly. It was his dolly, come to life!
These days, I think I love the Daddy Doll most of all. Whenever my husband is taking himself too seriously, or whenever his buddies come over, good old Daddy Doll always makes an appearance. It keeps him humble and it keeps me laughing.
Now our baby girl has discovered her brother’s Daddy Doll, and he’s not ready to share it. So guess what I’ve told Daddy we’ll be giving our little girl for Christmas? That’s right… Daddy Doll #2.
If you ever find yourself in the market for a Daddy Doll:
- Rest assured, these dolls are virtually indestructible. Our Daddy Doll has been soiled with just about every substance imaginable, and he always comes clean after a spin in the washing machine.
- If you really get into it, you can put a little voice recorder inside with a 10-second message on it.
- The company that makes these is actually very sweet. They even have a nonprofit arm, Operation Hug-a-Hero, which provides these dolls to military families who can’t afford them.
- The dolls aren’t just for military families. Anyone dealing with distance – grandparents, for example – can be featured on a doll.
- Go to www.DaddyDolls.com for more information.