Naming is a tricky business. At least for me, the aim is not only to pick something that sounds pleasing, but also to capture the essence of the ‘namee’. I remember a time in my childhood when my dad suggested playing pirates and asked me to pick a name for myself. ‘Rosalia’, I declared after giving it some thought. I was pleased with myself for coming up with something so unusual, distant, and exotic. Something very fitting of a female pirate 🙂
My daughter, on the other hand, does not seem that interested in the task of naming. Not yet. She has two dolls called ‘baby’ and one called ‘dolly’. So, when a new girl arrived at our house, I thought I would try to get her a more unique name.
– Sparrow*, do you like your new dolly?
– Yes, – she says, clutching a beautiful handmade girl to her chest.
– What name will you give her?
She looks at me, pauses to think, and then victoriously announces:
– Lelyte! (which means ‘dolly’ in Lithuanian and is already the ‘name’ of her other doll).
– I know she is a dolly, but she needs a name. You are a girl, but your name is Sparrow*. I am a girl too, but you call me Mommy. Now, this new doll here is a dolly, but she needs a name of her own. What would you like to call her?
She studies my face, considers the issue at hand, looks around. On the table, there is a hand-decorated teapot that my sister gave me as a Christmas gift. We are sipping thyme tea at the time of conversation.
– Lelyte Arbata (dolly Tea), – my little one declares with conviction.
And so the name sticks. Did I not ask for something unique? If people can name their kids Apple, North, or Lourdes, then why not Dolly Tea?..
Arbata is a very special little girl. Hand-made from cotton jersey and stuffed with carded sheep’s wool, she is soft and warm and very cuddly. A Waldorf doll in spirit if not exactly in letter: her features are more defined than a traditional Waldorf concept would allow (to the delight of my daughter, she even has a bellybutton). Her body, hair, facial features, and even a full set of dolly clothes were carefully hand-crafted by a single doll maker in Lithuania upon my order. (You can visit her blog here and treat your eyes to some beautiful lovelies or maybe even get tempted into placing an order).
Arbata is a creature of neither past nor present. She is much more detailed and sophisticated than her predecessors – the lovingly crafted rag dolls of our parents’ and grannies’ childhoods – and yet much more soulful and personal than the faceless plastic creations that flood our kids’ lives today.
When I inform my dear husband of yet another toy our girl might need, I am often met with ‘you know you are getting this for yourself, the things you would have liked as a kid’. Well, this time I said it upfront – if our daughter does not take to a doll (at this stage in her life, she is more of a cars and trains girl after all), I will gladly take her as mine. Even though I am long past dolly-playing age, there is something endearing and heart-warming about a slowly hand-made custom-ordered (i.e. personal) item in a mass-produced world. I would have gladly seated her on my bedside locker and smile every time I looked at her soft face. Instead, lelyte Arbata gets to sleep in the new pink bed with my Sparrow daughter, ride rocking horses, sip tea at picnics, play ring-a-ring-a-roses, and even go on pirate adventures in search of chocolate coins. Ah, the good life…
* If you are not a regular at HeartKindling, this is not my daughter’s actual name, but rather something that I call her on this blog.