There are few toys that do a better job teaching young children the meaning of patience, responsibilty, and tenderness than a doll that requires its owner to take care of it. At least, that’s what these ingenious dolls are supposed to instill in their young caretakers, but little Cassie Kepple, five, has her own style of parenting; she simply lets her Crying Carrie-Anne doll wail until the four DD batteries lodged in her back have worn out. Now THAT’S tough love.
Depending on how the doll’s owner (or “parent”) programs her, Carrie-Anne cries anywhere from every twenty minutes to every three hours. How does one get her to stop? Simple: Carrie-Anne is given a little bottle of (simulated) milk. This stops the crying. At least, temporarily.
But that’s not how this Carrie-Anne’s “mom” takes care of her.
“I just let her cry until she doesn’t work any more…until her batteries stop,” said Kepple. “That way, she’ll learn her lesson and think twice about crying again. I’m trying to train her to not cry. The more she cries, the less I care. That’s my motto.”
Asked if her daughter may have picked up this cruel method of nonparenting from her, Cassie’s mother, Denise Kepple, vehemently denies the accusation.
“Of course not,” said Mrs. Kepple. “My husband and I were, and continue to be, very attentive, loving parents. I don’t know where Cassie picked this up, but it’s worlds’ away from our style of parenting. We never believed in the cry-it-out thing. It’s just cruel.”
“A kid doesn’t just pull this sort of idea out of thin air,” said family friend, Nancy Cartman. “Someone taught her this. That, or she was born with zero empathy. Whatever it is, Cassie will not be invited to another sleepover with [daughter] Marlee until she either starts leaving the crying doll behind, or learns to take care of her correctly. Last time she spent the night at our house, not only would she not tend to her crying doll, but she wouldn’t let us touch her, either. She insisted that she was ‘teaching her a lesson.’”
Cassie’s parents are somewhat concerned about their daughter’s behavior, but hope this mean streak is just a phase.
“She’s a sweet kid, otherwise,” said Mrs. Kepple. “She loves her little sister and us. She has a lot of friends.”
Cassie’s dad was slightly more vocal in his concern for his daughter’s treatment of the doll.
“I’m much more concerned than Denise,” said Mr. Kepple. “Letting her cry it out for hours is one thing, but putting her out in the garage, in the dead of winter, for some perceived slight is odd. As is waterboarding…or attaching my jumper cables to her toes. What five-year-old tortures their doll? It’s upsetting as hell.”
“We’ve seen our share of strange things,” said Morris Seagrant of Kid-Glo Industries, which manufactures the Crying Carrie-Anne doll.
“Parents are always sending us back the Crying Carrie-Anne dolls bearing evidence of the various ways in which a child attempted to quiet the doll. Because if the doll’s bottle cannot be found, it will continue to cry until it is. We’ve seen the speaker mechanism taped over, glued shut, the head ripped off,.. some pretty disturbing stuff. Kids are not nearly as patient as you might like to think. Believe me.”