Thursday, January 08, 2009

Say... nice handbasket!

The gentle slope underfoot, with no turnings, and no signposts.

What I have to say is hardly a laughing matter... that LOLcat is rather like whistling past the graveyard, frankly. The Curt Jester breaks some particularly horrible news - so horrible that even the Prince of Papist Punsters can't crack wise about it:

WASHINGTON - Many people like to stop and play with newborn babies, but now some adult women are playing house with fake babies. Some women are even going
as far as taking day trips with the fake babies to the park, out to eat, and even hosting birthday parties for them.

Forty-nine-year-old Linda is married with no children of her own. Now, she says she feels like a mother because she has Reborns -- dolls made to look and feel like the real thing. "It's not a crazy habit, like, you know, drinking, or some sort of, something that's going to hurt you. It's like a hobby, and it doesn't really hurt anybody," Linda said.

These women are paying big bucks for this hobby, from $100 to a few thousand dollars.

For Reborn owner Lachelle Moore, the fake babies fill a void. "What's so wonderful about Reborns is that, um, they're forever babies," said Moore, who has grown children and grandchildren. "There's no college tuition, no dirty diapers... just the good part of motherhood," she added.

And I found an older article about the Reborns that is even more jaw-dropping.**

“It fills a spot in your heart,” Lynn Katsaris told TODAY’s Matt Lauer Wednesday in New York as she cuddled “Benjamin” and “Michael” in her arms. A realtor from suburban Phoenix, Katsaris is also an artist who has created 1,052 reborn dolls and sold them to women around the world. She was one of three grown women visiting the show with five of the the bogus — but eerily realistic — babies cradled tenderly in their arms.

Let me say this as gently as I can... PEOPLE ARE NOT TOOLS. Wanting to treat any person, much less a helpless newborn, as a hobby or a plaything is a sign of moral illness, not a need to be met. The solution is to learn to treat each other as real human beings, NOT to invent fake human beings whose only value is in what they give to you.

Monica Walsh, a 41-year-old wife and mother of a 2-year-old daughter from Orange County, N.Y., has one doll – “Hayden.” And, yes, she told Lauer, she plays with her doll “the same way a man might make a big train station and play with his train station or play with his sports car, his boat or his motorcycle.”

NO! Great jumping Judas on a trampoline, woman! This is the DIRECT OPPOSITE of what you're talking about. Toy trains, cars, etc are NOT HUMAN. They are certainly not damnable simulacra of the real thing. Playing with these dolls as if they were alive is much more like a man who really believes that his HO-scale basement models will actually get him from Philly to New York, and waits patiently at the six-inch-high train station with a postage-stamp sized ticket he meticulously drew. Such a man would be a complete moron in need of therapy, not an innocent hobbyist.

... “I have a 2-year-old daughter. I don’t feel that way at all that it replaces her. It’s completely different having a real baby,” Walsh explained. “But I think she’s going to love the fact that I play with dolls. How much fun is it going to be for her?”

Yay, my mom's a raging basket case!

Little kids play with dolls precisely because they are incapable of caring for the real thing, but they need to learn how safely. They practice compassion and caring and giving of themselves in a way that does no harm to a real infant. Eventually, the compassion, caring, and giving remain, while the dragging up- and down-stairs by the plastic hair and the constantly-lost clothes and neglected feedings and changings stop. If all goes away, "we put away childish things" and can succeed in actual parenthood.

If you want to have fun with your daughter, how about playing WITH HER and HER DOLLS instead of just going off with your own hobby and leaving her to fend for herself? Like it or not, what you are doing, Ms. Walsh, is EXACTLY the definition of replacing your daughter.

Fran Sullivan, 62, lives in Florida and has never had children. She brought two reborns to New York, “Robin” and “Nicholas,” and said she has a collection of more than 600 dolls of all kinds, including a number of reborn dolls.

Sullivan told Lauer she rotates her dolls, choosing a new one to care for each day depending on how she feels. She talks to them as she would to an infant, but said it’s really not all that strange. “Children talk to their dolls, and they express their feelings toward their dolls,” she told Lauer. “And as a 40- or 50- or 60-year-old woman, you do the same thing. You’re still the same person you were when you were an 8-year-old.”

Gracious heavens, I hope not. This goes far beyond keeping a little whimsy into one's adulthood. Really - "Reborns"?? As creepy as this already is, I think it's creepier that they've appropriated a term with overt Christian overtones for their accursed homunculi.

Yes, I know... hyperbolic much, 'fly? In this case, actually, not as much as you might think. This really does reduce kids to objects that are only wanted around as long as they're useful. And worst of all, this could easily fool people into thinking that they really HAVE met their own needs, rather like a vaccine fools the body into fighting an illness that really isn't there - thus keeping one from ever having the real thing.

A faux kid doesn't give one "only the good parts of motherhood." It doesn't give one motherhood at all, only a fraud. I have a hockey simulator, and I rather enjoy tinkering with my fake team, but I would be a colossal nitwit to think that I could run a real team based on my game experience... how much more of a nitwit would I be if I thought that my fake team WAS in fact real, that I really had won the Stanley Cup and had drafted all sorts of excellent players who enjoyed playing for us?

(Mind you , this comes from a guy who, as a writer, will sometimes feel like his own characters have a purpose and a life that I merely describe, not invent. My favorite stories to write are precisely those that give me the sense of cooperating with the fictional folks and events, not forcing them - that they have a mind of their own, so to speak - and those are usually better stories to read, as well. Even then, I would never dream that those people and events are real and really happening. You'll have to excuse me, therefore, for the hyperbole in this case, because it seems like other people are making precisely this mistake with far less of a leg to stand on. They aren't involved creatively at all with these toys, some of which have "a heartbeat and a device that makes the chest rise and fall to simulate breathing.")

One of the big lies of modern culture in the West is that if your life isn't easy, you're doing it wrong. It's hard to really raise a kid, so forget it! Never mind that our parents worked really hard to raise us. But people now demand the rewards for having accomplished hard things without daring to attempt them. They often don't stop to realize that the accomplishment IS the reward, and is thus inseparable from the long struggle to master the required skills, and then the effort to put those skills to use. And much of the satisfaction from enjoying those skills comes from knowing that they didn't come in a pill, but were honed through hard work. The little red hen went through a lot to learn how to bake, and then to gather her ingredients and prepare her bread. We are much more like the cat, fox, and pig than the hen, however, and would rather accuse her of being unfair than bothering even to help - and perhaps run the risk of learning how to bake in the bargain.

Well, there's no profit in the path of least resistance, and changing reality to suit our broken nature rather than seeking healing is a dead-end snare. Even what we think we have will be taken away - in this case, those who seek "only the good parts" in fact get none of the good parts at all: no first words, first steps, first days of school, learning to read and ride a bike, never the joy of knowing that you are the most important people on earth to one fragile life who needs you, and no joy in the finished product, when they leave for their own adult life and (all being well) continue to rely on you - no longer from need, but from love.

When I saw this I actually thought of a CMR post, the one about suffering... about eventually being a burden to everyone, or else accepting that burden for your own loved ones. To be blunt, hells yeah! We get married for better AND worse, not for better and then you're on your own, pallie. It is an honor for my wife and I to trust each other with our very dignity in our final days, just as it is an honor to guard and nurture the formation of any children we may have.

And the more our culture wears away to the nub, the more I think of how essential that covenant is - because how else can we all learn this great lesson, in a world which makes a fetish of keeping us from learning any hard lessons at all, from earliest childhood on? No winning - it makes losers feel bad. No correcting - it hurts our self-esteem. No right and wrong - the only wrong is imposing a standard of any sort. No risks - you may get hurt, poor baby!

Hence, no self-knowledge, no respect, no humility, no prudence, no ability to balance risk and reward, no courage, no great works, and a constant feeling of being too good for handling life's necessities. It's someone else's fault!

Sadly, reaping whirlwinds is equally hard work, with much less reward.

** (I can't neglect to mention that the article was written by none other than an FJM favorite, the Hat Guy himself, Mike Celizic. Really.)

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