The Waldorf Doll

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I have to admit that part of my initial fascination with Waldorf/Steiner education was due to the simple, beautiful, natural toys. (But just part of the fascination.  I also loved the daily rhythm aspect, the Head, Heart, Hands philosophy, studying concepts in-depth, and many more things.)  But today I want to talk about “The Waldorf Doll,” and perhaps this should be more like an AA meeting.  Something like, “Hello, my name is Mrs. Mallard, and I want my daughter to LOVE her Waldorf doll.  I want her to prize it above all other toys.  I want her to eschew the pre-formed plastic dolls that are so cold and hard to snuggle with, etc.”  You get the idea?  Well, here’s my story.

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I bought Teal and Wigeon beautiful, and I mean BEAUTIFUL, Waldorf dolls for Christmas.  Teal loves her doll Ivy and gave it an honorary place on her bed, just as it merits, but she doesn’t play with it.  I’m OK with that.  Teal is eleven and while playing with dolls used to be her thing, it isn’t any more.  I get it.  But Wigeon, little Wigeon, I was determined that she would love her Waldorf doll “Willow.”  I guess my unspoken (or was it spoken in non-direct words?!) desire for her to love it was somehow interpreted by the bigger ducklings, and a few days after Christmas, Wigeon’s other dolls mysteriously disappeared.  It was funny and I laughed about it, but I was secretly thrilled that there would be no more competition to earn a place in Wigeon’s heart.  And there wasn’t!  Suddenly a relationship started forming between Wigeon and Willow.  Wigeon asked for Willow every night at bedtime.  Wigeon played with Willow.  Wigeon began talking to Willow and wanting her to come with us in the car.  It was lovely!  Heartwarming really.

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And then something happened.  Wigeon got a baby doll for her birthday.  A sweet plastic baby doll that is small and cute and looks like a baby.  It can take a bottle.  It can take a bath.  It is NAMED Baby.  Wigeon LOVES babies.  And Willow?  Dear Willow has been relegated to second place. For now.  (Teal confided in me that she remembers playing as if she had a little girl rather than a baby when she got older, so she is hopeful that Wigeon will come around.)

And me?  I’m OK, too.   I’ve read about “The Waldorf Doll” in The Education of the Child.  Steiner thought it was important for children to have simple dolls (like folded-napkin-dolls-with-dots-for-features simple)  so that their brains had to work to “fill in from their own imagination what is necessary to make it real and human.”  In giving a child what he calls a “pretty” doll, the “brain has nothing more to do” which makes it become “stunted and dried up.”  I certainly don’t want to cause a stunted or dried up brain, but sometimes I think even the Waldorf dolls of today leave very little to the imagination.  What do you think?  (And I don’t mean to turn this into a “My Waldorf doll is simpler than yours” type of thing!)

With all this in mind, we are going to keep loving Baby and Willow, Wigeon has already gifted them with a sweet sense of humanness, and I will continue to work on offering other playthings that leave lots of room for imagination.

11 thoughts on “The Waldorf Doll

  1. Lisa

    This makes me chuckle! A few months ago, my daughter lost her Waldorf doll. The same doll I spent hours making a couple of years ago. Completely lost, it’s never been found. I tried to make it seem like no big deal, but we all know you spend either time or money on those things, so it’s a big deal. I began making her a new one for Christmas. One week before Christmas, her cousin gifted her with a hand-me-down fake American girl doll with ratted hair, which she promptly proclaimed her most favorite doll ever and plays with all the time. She broke her arm, and has now named the new doll after the nurse who cared for her in the hospital. It is one of her most treasured possessions. I have yet to finish the Christmas doll, but I hope she will love it too. I no longer worry about whether the Waldorf doll will be the “only”, I figure it’s all good.

    Reply
  2. Mama

    I so love Waldorf dolls. Neither of my girlies like dolls At All. ZERO. So, as sweet and lovely as they are — if I want one, I’m going to have to put it on My bed (:

    I think if you want to insure that you’re not drying up your child’s brain, you should give her a potato and say “this is a doll, now love it.” Now a potato is a really simple doll — think of something that you would have to have more “imagination to fill in what is necessary to make it real and human.” I think that If you Really Love her, that’s what you’ll do.

    However, if you only kind of love her, you’ll give her something that looks a little like a doll — like a good sized ball of dryer lint with arms and legs tied off with yarn. Still some imagination necessary, but not as much as the potato doll.

    And if you don’t care a whit about her, you’ll give her a doll that actually has legs and arms and a face. You can deal with the dried up stunted brain that results from getting an American Girl Doll rather than a potato. But, who am I to judge? (; If you insist on letting her love a doll with a face, arms and ratted out hair, I’ll be forced to turn you into the Waldorf Police (:

    I’m so glad you stopped by my blog because I lost all my bookmarks and couldn’t find you again!

    Reply
    1. Mrs. Mallard Post author

      Mama, I wish I had talked to you before buying Waldorf dolls. I could have saved a lot of money with a potato or dryer lint and never worried about stunted brains. Thanks for dropping by!

      Reply
  3. homesteadhoney

    The same exact thing happened to me too! I had ordered a lovely mama-made Waldorf doll, and while I was waiting for it to arrive in the mail, a friend of our family got my daughter (then 10 months) a plastic-faced doll, which she also named Baby! Now, 4 years later, my son loves Baby too! It’s the only doll he plays with, and I even made him a Waldorf doll!

    But, my daughter now uses the Waldorf doll as the “big sister” and that works out great. They really don’t look like babies, and sometimes our babies just want babies!

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Links To Love… | The Parenting Passageway

  5. Sarah

    My daughter loves her plastic, op-shoped twin dolls ($1 each) and the plastic baby doll she got from her God-mother for Christmas. The steiner doll I so carefully ordered and customised the clothing and features to be just so, sits on the shelf. So, it was nice to know I am in good company. She is just about to turn 3 so maybe she will be more interested when she is older.

    Reply
  6. cjslater1

    I just ordered my daughter one of the blank dolls from etsy, I am going to add hair and that is it, no eyes etc, I read a really interesting article about how not adding features was good because then the doll didn’t have to be happy all the time. I may just add a little blush….I goodwilled all her other dolls, I have no idea how a 2 yr old ended up with so much plastic but its gone now, we are trying to move over to a more natural play in our house.

    Reply
    1. Mrs. Mallard Post author

      I have read the same thing about the blank dolls. We have a rag doll with no face that receives a good amount of play time.

      It’s amazing how quickly plastics infiltrate the toys. I find myself constantly culling. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

      Reply

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