Boy baby
Despite the freaky, rusted-out-from-the-bath eyes, this is a real treasure. It's so rare to find an anatomically-correct boy doll at an op shop.

Back when I only had two daughters, I was very excited when Manou first discovered a secondhand boy-doll to help define the genders. I couldn’t bring myself to pay the full retail price of an anatomically-correct boy-doll, and all the gender-neutral dolls we owned passed as girls.

Aisha (then about two years old) was fascinated. Apart from the obvious, Boy Baby was a pretty faithful replica of a newborn, with a scrunched up face, oversized head and umbilical-cord stump.

Boy Baby was a favourite in the bath and was ideal to use for anatomy lessons. Aisha loved to bathe him and sing to him, point out his bits and wrap him up for bed. I was rapt — she was playing and learning at the same time. Ahhh.

All should have been well. But Boy Baby was a point of contention in our house.

David maintained that Boy Baby was too ugly to keep around. I argued that he was too rare a specimen and too difficult to replace, so regardless of his lack of beauty (but Aisha didn’t think he was ugly — she loved Boy Baby!), we needed to keep Boy Baby around.

Our wrangling continued for some months, usually in the bathroom when David spotted Boy Baby again, and was once again insulted by the doll’s ugliness. (Perhaps there was some Freudian undertones in his intense reaction that I should have been more sensitive to…)

Finally David — being the head of the house and all — took matters into his own hands. He removed Boy Baby, successfully hiding him so I couldn’t find the doll again.

I pleaded with David for its return. David assured me he hadn’t thrown the doll out, but didn’t want it in our house. Period.

So that was the end of Boy Baby.

Or so I thought.

Fast-forward about six months to when David was on-site at commercial premises in Brisbane city. While unrolling the carpet he was to install in the offices, out popped Boy Baby! (David had successfully hidden Boy Baby inside the cardboard core of a roll of carpet and then forgotten about it.)

So in this corporate environment, in the middle of a high-stress installation, managing a worker and intent presenting a professional, business demeanour, David was once again confronted with his arch-nemesis — the boy-doll whose ugliness had been so offensive to him that he had wanted to throw him out.

What to do?

Holding Boy Baby in his hand, David looked around. Then he leaned over to one of the workstations, opened the bottom drawer of the desk, lay Boy Baby inside and slid the drawer shut.

I have always wondered about the office worker who one day discovered Boy Baby in his or her drawer. Could they guess the story behind his appearance? Did they blame a colleague? Is Boy Baby living happily in another house with parents who aren’t quite so sensitive to appearances? Or did he end finally up in the rubbish bin?

I’ll never know the ending to the true story of Boy Baby.

I have since bought another Boy Baby — not quite as ugly as the first, but just as anatomically satisfying — for 80 cents at an op shop. So all’s well that ends well, even if my curiosity is never satisfied.