My sister and I spent endless hours playing with dollhouses when we were little, I’m talking NASA astronaut training hours. Our first dollhouse was constructed by my mom from a wooden craft kit. The four room house was decorated and redecorated by painting the interior, gluing felt for carpeting and paper on the walls. We bought furniture and accessories down to potted plants, tiny picture frames, dishes and tea cups. Later we planned to add to our dollhouse neighborhood and each bought our own craft kits for additional houses. My house, like many of my master-minded projects, never got completed. I lost the directions and the beginnings of a large three-story house remained untouched in my parent’s basement for nearly 20 years. Call it divine intervention interrupting either mom’s
hoarding reservation in throwing things out or my inability to follow-through with projects; the remaining contents in the doll house kit got wet in a minor leak in their basement and the house was finally set out on the curb.
The clean up effort lead my mom and I to rediscovering the remaining dollhouses last week. I assumed at some point I would introduce my daughter to the houses, thinking maybe when she is a little older. Two years old is too young for the fragile old wood, it doesn’t light up or make sounds like other plastic houses she’s seen, and all of the itsy-bitsy accessories to keep track of is enough to cause me an aneurism. In a few years I figured she would love the houses. Then as quickly as the dollhouses were at table level and within reach, a childhood wave of sentiment rushed over me and I couldn’t wait for her to wake up from her nap to come and play.
My mom and I sorted through the miniature time capsule of our youth, cleaning up, dusting off and discarding what was broken or not worth keeping. My sister was mighty pleased, back in the day, to use some creative skill in making her own dollhouse furniture. Foam haphazardly covered in fabric as the bed would have been fit for a dollhouse equivalent to a crack house. There were a few surprises in the excavation of the houses which ironically seemed accurate in our lives today. My sister’s house was filled with pets, including two tigers. This spring she will be completing her vet tech degree and the journey to get her there was inspired by her time working with the tigers at Endangered Animal Rescue in Citra, Florida. (Click HERE for more on that story.) My sister plans to work with a zoo veterinary department and continue her passion with big cats.
The other foreshadowing shock from our childhood houses, we found a black family. In our suburban caucasian home I can’t remember or imagine why we had purchased a black family. Perhaps my sister and I needed a way to distinguish who’s dolls belonged to each other? Were we impatient with a store who ran out of white families? Could it be my sister and I wisely saw a value in increasing the diversity in our dollhouse community? Whatever the reasoning was back then it has long since been forgotten and I’m sure my twelve-year-old self would have never been able to know she would one day fall in love and marry a black man.
With the components freshly sanitized, small accessories stored away and rooms reconfigured the houses were ready. I barely withheld my desire to wake my daughter up to come and play… Finally she arose and joined us downstairs to get her first glimpse of the hand crafted childhood treasure. Parker jumped right into investigating the pieces of furniture, opening the refrigerator, rearranging the living room, and pointing out the bird-cage. She opened the toilet seat and promptly put the little girl on it, holding the “mommy doll” near by to applaud her when she finished. Dollhouses may predict the future and when a two-year old plays it replicates her present life with plenty of potty practice.
If you are interested in having your own fun with this creative and playful hobby you can find doll house kits online or at craft stores like Hobby Lobby or Jo Ann ETC. In the Kansas City area you can check out Mini Temptations at 3633 West 95th in Overland Park, KS for a greater variety of houses, decorations, furniture and accessories you can see first hand.