by Dawn de Braal
We didn’t have a lot of money growing up. My dad was a police officer and my mother a stay at home mom with five children ten years between the oldest to the youngest. I think I understood, even at five years old that we didn’t have a lot of money, but the television droned on about a Tiny Tears doll that cried and wet her pants. She even came with a bottle. Oh, how I wanted that doll. I could taste it.
I remember it like it was yesterday, figuring out how I could get that doll for Christmas. I told my parents to buy me the doll, when I grew up and became an actress, I would pay them back. They must have thought that was the cutest thing, because Tiny Tears was under the Christmas tree.
I didn’t realize when she wet, it meant that you filled the doll with water and it went through her and got on everything, and I don’t remember her crying, you probably had to lay her down and squeeze her. I had a bottle with pretend milk that seemed to disappear when you tipped it over, and the added bonus, Tiny Tears did not wet on you!
I lived next door to my great-grandparents. They were retired but worked as missionaries on an Indian Reservation. My grandmother's eyes were bad, so for her to ask me to thread the needle on her treadle sewing machine, I felt very important. I was able to get the thread through the needle. We spent the day making clothes for Tiny Tears. She even let me sew a little. That’s the wonderful thing about great -grandmothers - they forget how clumsy little kids can be and that they could sew their fingers to a doll dress. But we had some clothes made by the end of the day. Great-Grandma told me about the Indian children and how they had no toys to play with. She would gather old dolls, cleaning them up making them clothes and give them to the little girls that had no toys.
I felt so sorry. I had other dolls and somehow found myself giving Tiny Tears over to my grandmother to give to the poor children who had nothing. I felt very grown-up when I left her house that day and walked across the yard. I threaded her needle a few times when the thread broke, I’d made some doll clothes, and I gave a doll, and clothes to a poor child who had nothing.
A few days later the good feeling rubbed off. A few days without my doll, I decided I would find a different doll to give the poor girls. I ran across the lawn to my great grandmother’s house and told her I wanted to give this doll instead of Tiny Tears. She pointed up to the shelf where she kept the toys they repaired. There were no dolls or toy. They had brought them to the Mission a few days ago.
I was devastated. Suddenly that moment of wanting to help turned into a moment of selfishness.
I never did get famous, but I used the money I made singing at a supper club to buy a gift for my parents. They didn’t remember me saying that when I grew up and became an actress, I’d pay them back. I never forgot, and I never forgot Tiny Tears, and the tears she brought to me. I hope the little girl who got her loved her as much as I did.