For many parents, the holidays can lead to a lot of undue pressure to make the season truly magical for their children. That kind of pressure is exactly how one mom unknowingly bought a mermaid doll filled with cocaine off Etsy while trying to make her 5-year-old daughter's Christmas dreams come true. But as Elizabeth Faidley reveals to Romper, the annual retelling of this wild mermaid baby doll saga may have a deeper message for parents.
"Let's journey back to December of 2015 when all Ellie wanted for Christmas was a real merbaby," Faidley wrote in a recent Facebook post. "Not just a mermaid, and not just a baby. A mermaid baby."
Faidley said she searched high and low for a merbaby before finally finding a handmade one on Etsy that the family has since named Pearl. Faidley tells Romper, that Pearl wasn't what one might call cheap. In fact, Faidley says she spent $500 on Pearl.
But while Faidley's daughter likely dreamed of finding a cute and adorable-looking merbaby under the tree, Pearl was anything but. "In the pictures online, it appeared that Pearl was wearing a veil of some sort," Faidley wrote on Facebook. "But no, that was her creepy and weird skin." Still, Faidley revealed that she felt confident her daughter would "love" Pearl anyway.
In video Faidley shared, Ellie can be seen running excitedly to unwrap Pearl. Upon seeing Pearl's face, however, Ellie lets out an "ew" and slowly begins to back away from the doll in disgust. "It's not what I expected," a visibly disappointed Ellie finally managed to say.
An at-home attempt to make Pearl "prettier" by dying her green locks blonde proved futile, according to Faidley. "Ellie refuses to hold Pearl," she wrote. "I am, of course, devastated by my failure and more determined than ever to remedy it."
That's when Faidley decided to send Pearl off to a doll and teddy bear hospital in Seacacus, New Jersey, for a complete makeover. "I pack Pearl up in a box and address it the doll hospital," Faidley wrote on Facebook in her recent re-telling of the story. "I tell Ellie that Pearl is going off to the hospital to have her face and hair 'adjusted.' Ellie wisely informs me that, 'Pearl has even greater problems than those.' Then, she proceeds write on the box, 'Please, please, help this doll. She has so many problems.'"
Not too long after authorizing the doll hospital to makeover Pearl, Faidley said she received a call from a detective at the Secaucus Police Department. It turned out that Ellie was right, Pearl did have greater problems than her hair and face skin. "When [the doll hospital] removed Pearl's head to repaint her offensive skin, they found 2 ounces of COCAINE. STUFFED IN HER HEAD," Faidley revealed.
According to Faidley, while police initially assumed the drugs belonged to her or someone in her family, the entire family was eventually cleared of suspicion. Instead, authorities began investigating the Etsy seller who'd sold Pearl, reportedly conducted a "sting" operation on them. Unfortunately, the case meant Pearl would be permanently confiscated as evidence and would never receive her doll makeover or return to Ellie, who Faidley reported was more than OK with that outcome.
While re-telling the saga of Pearl is now an annual holiday tradition for Faidley, she tells Romper that she wasn't always able to laugh about what happened. "At the time, I was mortified and a little afraid," she says. "I didn't write the story or tell many people until a year later. Now, it is really funny, but then, it was really scary, actually."
In the end, however, Faidley feels there are lessons to be gleamed from the Pearl Saga, which she has noted "really symbolizes my motherhood journey."
"Parents try so hard, every minute of the day, to do the best they can for their children," Faidley tells Romper. "It consumes us — Or at least me. I want to give Ellie everything I can — the most love, the most attention, the best education, the best cello teachers, the best ballet school, the most confidence, the most grit. The best merbaby possible. And sometimes we fail."