“Growing up I always looked up to my dad, and the older my son gets, the more he looks up to his father. So when raising my son, a huge goal of mine is to raise him to be an incredible father; if he so chooses to be one. That way his kids will be proud of him and look up to him just as I do my dad, and he does his. My son Alex is a strong willed 2-year-old little boy whose determination will never cease to amaze anyone who meets him. Alex is an affectionate, nurturing and generous kid who loves the park, cars, trucks, trains, and bubbles – but most especially, babies. He loves to share and is known at our local park as the sweet little boy who comes with tons of toys so he can share with everyone who wants to play. All the park regulars love it when they see Alex with his loot for all the kiddos. I can’t even describe how honored and blessed I feel to call him MY son.
This morning his father sent me a reply to a picture I sent him at work saying, ‘I miss him so much, he‘s so full of energy and happiness. I’m so proud to call him my son.’ And I couldn’t agree with that more.
Alex was a surprise baby. After struggling with addiction for nearly 5 years, I came to find out I got pregnant. I immediately sought out the help I needed to get clean and better myself. I went to a long-term mommy and me rehab facility where I stayed until Alex was born, and at two months old, he and I came home to my husband, Alex’s father. Since then we’ve been home, raising Alex in a beautiful family friendly town in New Jersey and I couldn’t be anymore blessed than I am today. Due to my addiction and my traumatic childhood, I can only hope to be the best parent I can be for Alex, and that includes supporting him in his interests. As of now, that starts with pretend play!
Alex has the energy of 10 kids, maybe more. At 14 months old, Alex aspirated on his Thanksgiving dinner and nearly died in our kitchen in his grandfather’s arms. Thankfully police arrived in time and the officer on scene was able to get him breathing again. Once loaded in the ambulance, Alex was ready to go play, he doesn’t let anything to stop him! He needed surgery to remove the food, and the morning after his surgery, he was ready to play and run wild! His gorgeous smile was back on his face and he was ready to take on the world again.
Alex LOVES pretend play, but his favorite scenario is to get his baby, buckle the baby into his car seat in my car, climb up front, puts the key in (all while I sit next to him, e-break on) and I start the car and he pretends to drive while dancing to music. He thinks he’s taking his baby and me to the park. Seeing him hop in the car, buckle his baby in and hop in the driver’s seat fills my heart with so much happiness and love. It’s touching to see your child copy the things you do with excitement on their face. Then when they look up to you for a sign of approval, and the pure bliss they express when you give a round of applause, is a feeling I think all parents know.
Alex loves to take his baby shopping with us. He’ll push the baby in the stroller next to me and will randomly stop to check on his baby, coincidentally named ‘Baby.’ He’ll walk to the front of the stroller, look down and say, ‘Baby? Ninny? Baba? No? Ok!’ And we go on our merry little way. He’ll take the baby to the park where Alex will put the baby in one swing and he gets in another, and I have to push them both at the same time. When we take our nightly walk, he takes his baby in his stroller with him and will feed his baby his baba while I push them both around the neighborhood. Then they come home to cuddle up in mommy’s bed while we watch some cartoons. Alex will cuddle his baby while I cuddle him. It’s the most precious thing ever. I love seeing him want to be a daddy.
Not only does he love to play daddy and take care of his babies, but he likes to make sure his babies have a clean home! He has his own cleaner (cleaned out Clorox bottle filled with water) and he LOVES to help mommy clean. From sweeping and mopping to wiping down tables, he gets so excited when he’s allowed to help. When Alex was 1, he discovered a baby doll at his aunt’s house. The baby had a little bouncer chair that he would put the baby in and rock it to sleep. That sparked Alex’s initial love for baby dolls. Since then, he’s had his own baby dolls and loves dressing them, putting their shoes on, giving the baby a ninny (pacifier) and giving the baby num-nums (food) or a baba (bottle). He has two strollers, one to take the baby out to the store and one to take the baby on walks to the park. The stroller we go to the park in is a beautiful antique doll stroller that I hope to restore when he’s done pushing it through the dirt!
Seeing the joy on his face when he takes care of his baby makes me so proud. However, we’ve gotten some rude comments also. I had someone ask me, ‘I hope that’s not his stroller. Is it?!’ I was caught off guard. Of course it’s his stroller! There’s no reason my son can’t pretend play with a baby doll. I find pretend play incredibly important. Why? Because one day, my son may choose to become a father, and there’s nothing wrong with him playing with a baby doll and pretending to care for it. Even if he chooses to never have children, that doesn’t mean I don’t want my son to be a loving, caring and nurturing individual.
I recently shared a photo of Alex on Facebook with his doll in the stroller, and a woman left a comment.
‘Why don’t you give him a sibling or get him a dog to play with instead of a doll?,’ she wrote.
It hurt and saddened me that she felt the need to be judgmental of my son pushing a doll; or the fact she didn’t even consider that maybe my husband and I had been TTC for well over 16 months before giving it a break after a miscarriage. The assumption we don’t have any pets either was a bit mind boggling to me. This woman knew nothing about me and my son. Why can’t she just appreciate a young boy having fun and living life to the fullest? He’s happy and smiling. Why does it offend you? We had a family dog, he passed away suddenly and we haven’t had the strength to replace him yet. We have a pet cat named Charlie, Alex loves to play with him too, but most of all, Alex loves his baby doll.
Watching Alex rock his baby to sleep, give it a bottle and paci as he gently pats it’s back gives me an overwhelming sense of pride that I’m doing a good job at this parenting thing.
Alex is so loving with his baby that we MUST bring it in the car, strap in the stroller and take the baby wherever we go, because you know, nobody puts baby in the corner… or leaves it at home. He loves to take his babies in the bath with him and when we get out, our routine involves rubbing lotion on the baby and putting it back into its clothes. It’s the sweetest thing to watch. I find pretend play to be such an important thing for children to partake in. It gives them a chance to mimic the things they see their parents do on a daily basis, and there’s nothing I want more in this world than to give my son the best role model I can. There’s no reason little boys can’t pretend play with babies or dolls or anything deemed ‘too girly’ by society. You’re not going to tell your adult son he’s too manly to change his newborn child’s diaper, are you?! Doubt it. So why can’t little boys practice and pretend in their early years? My husband and I are going to continue letting Alex pretend play, whether it’s with baby dolls, Barbies, action figures, cars or whatever his little heart desires. He’s a bright little boy with an infectious smile who touches the hearts of everyone he meets with his kind and gentle manner. I take great pride in having such a loving son, and just as my husband says, ‘I’m so proud to call him my son.’”
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