Salut, Bob!

Teach him to be kind.
Teach him to be a nurturer.
Teach him to have empathy.

Sullivan recently turned 3. I’m not sure how time seems to pass so slowly, especially these ‘groundhog days’ we seem to be living, but in the blink of an eye, 9 months has passed and we’re celebrating Sully’s 3rd birthday.

One of his favourite gifts this year is a beautiful doll from minimono.ca – this miniland doll has Down syndrome features. Yes! You read that correctly – there are features commonly associated with someone having down syndrome apparent on this doll. The eyes are slightly almond shaped, the nose a little flatter and a slight separation of toes are some examples.

This doll has become a prized possession in our home. It’s not uncommon to see the doll being lugged around under one of the boys’ arms, some days more gently than others.

Pictured is Sullivan, the author's blonde haired, grey eyed, 3 year old boy, wearing a sweater and jeans. He holds a toy miniland doll that has realistic features of a child with down syndrome. In front of him is a toy John Deere tractor.
Proof that boys can play with dolls AND trucks. After all, toys aren’t gender specific!


Teach him to cherish.
Teach him how to practice emotional-regulation.
Teach him to be caring.

One of the best parts of having this new toy in our home is hearing the boys playing with it. You can hear them practicing social skills as they interact with the doll, replaying some of the things they’ve learned or experienced recently as though they are processing the situation out-loud. And that’s apparent in the name they chose for the doll.

When Sullivan opened his gift and saw the doll, he was excited to begin playing with it. Almost immediately, he said “Salut, Bob!” to the toy.

Yes, Bob.

You might think that it’s because he understands that Robert has Down syndrome, and the doll represents a little boy with down syndrome. But you’d be wrong, the name isn’t (to him) a nickname for Robert.

In the event that your children aren’t being babysat by AmazonPrime or Netflix during Covid-Days while you are trying to work-full time from home and hopping on your umpteenth video conference call of the day – there is a show called Bob le train that airs on AmazonPrime. Bob le train rides through a city landscape and picks up the letters of the alphabet (in alphabetical order) to take them to their destination. Nearly every letter cheerfully greets the train with “Salut, Bob!”. And so, my children when playing can often be heard saying “Salut Bob!” to their toys.

As much as I would love to make up some sweet story about how Bob the doll was named, this story is so much more authentic (and representative of the times we are living).

Teach him to be gentle.
Teach him that toys are not gender-specific.
Teach him to be loving.

And while some may say that the dangers of our son having been gifted a doll for his birthday might include taunting by ignorant adults, we know that the benefits far outweigh those potential dangers. This doll is offering our boys the chance to practice compassion, kindness and empathy, which we try to model daily at home for them. And more importantly, it’s providing Robert with the chance to see himself represented in the toys we have in our home.