We came home last night without Alessia's dolly. This time she seems to be missing for good. Crazy person that I am, I went out with little Olivia in the stroller at 7:30 to retrace our steps, back through the grocery store, past the restaurant where we had dinner (we had already called them), to the subway station. I had already decided that if Olivia fell asleep in the stroller, I would even get on a train and head back into town to retrace our steps from the subway to the apartment building where we had been to a birthday party and where we had last seen dolly. So at 8:00 with a sleeping one-year-old in a stroller I got on the train.
All of this may sound crazy, and I'm sure that the mom of the birthday boy thought I was crazy when her doorman called up to say that I was there and had she seen a dolly after the party. After all we had already called her earlier in the evening. When I asked her doorman about dolly I was hoping that she had been found in the elevator or lobby, and I wasn't expecting him to call her again. So when she came down, I tried to explain how upset Alessia was, and how Alessia had left dolly in the stroller at the beginning of the party and was it possible that some other child had picked her up and played with her, leaving her somewhere else during the party. I was really afraid that I was making it sound like some other child had "stolen" dolly. She very nicely offered to email the other parents, just in case they had seen dolly.
It's hard to explain how important dolly has been. Alessia isn't very brave. The spring she was a year and half, it took multiple trips to the park before she worked up the courage to go on the swings and down the slide. Dolly went down the slide dozens of times and took many swing rides, before Alessia herself was willing to try it. After Olivia was born, dolly was a major part of how Alessia adjusted. She changed dolly's diaper, swaddled her and put her in the swing for naps, and gave her her very own binky. Alessia nursed dolly as recently as last week, pulling up her shirt and smooshing dolly's face into her little baby bosom. And all of these mothering activities were initiated by Alessia, not by me. Dolly went on adventures in picture books, playing at the park with Richard Scarry's cat family kids. She became the protagonist of her own book Dolly and the Purple Crayon. When Olivia started crawling and could get her hands on Alessia's toys, including dolly, we made it clear to Alessia that dolly was the one toy she never had to share. Dolly was a constant part of Alessia's play and her adventures into the world. We never left the house without her. And Alessia never went into her crib without Dolly. I know that Alessia will weather this storm. She's strong, which is different than being brave. This morning she is walking around with her Trudi doll under her arm, only occasionally saying to me or Adam "I need my dolly." Trudi has always been dolly's sidekick. Maybe this is her opportunity to take on a leading role.
Last night I learned where the line between mom and that crazy lady is, and I learned that I am capable of stopping short of crossing it. Getting on the train might have seemed crazy, but I really think most people would have done that. At one point while walking down the street in downtown crossing looking for dolly, I noticed a trash can and thought "someone could have thrown out dolly if they found her on the street, but I'm not going to start looking in trash cans THAT would be crazy." When I got back on the train to come home, I parked Olivia still asleep in the stroller and then thought "there's always the one in a million chance that this is the same train we were on." So I walked up the train a little looking under the seats. Before I went too far, I thought "going much further away from Olivia would be crossing the line into crazy" so I went back and sat down.
Post Script: Upstairs there is another dolly hidden away in a closet. Last summer Adam bought her on ebay. I've always thought of her as a bit of an abomination, a pretender. We would never try to pass her off as Dolly. Alessia is too smart for that. Alessia understands though that there are multiple copies of books and different versions of songs. If we don't find Dolly in the next couple of days, we will present this other dolly, explaining that she is another version or a copy of her dolly. Then we will let Alessia decide what role this new dolly will have in her life.