Over the holidays, though, we went to a few parties where older girls had brought their new Amer.ican Girl dolls to show off. And suddenly Mari was utterly smitten with the idea of having a big kid doll. Not just any big kid doll. Oh, no--out of all the dolls we met in December, she wanted the Amer.ican Girl doll named Julie. I don't even think she understands the concept of brands, she just knew from the depths of her little three-foot tall self that this Julie would complete her life. (Julie was, I think not coincidentally, the first one of these dolls the older girls allowed Mari to hold. She imprinted on her like a baby duck in reverse.)
Now, there was no way on God's green Earth that I was buying her a Julie doll as a birthday present. My reasons were several.
- Marian is four years old.
- Her love affair with Julie would likely be over before the daffodils bloomed.
- American Girl dolls cost approximately a bazillion dollars.
- Julie looks like this:
"You're not going to get a Julie," I told her. Sympathetically but firmly.
"Did you know I'm getting a Julie for my birthday?" she answered. You have to give her points for being tenacious.
Several months ago I had snapped up a Kar.ito Kids Lulu doll at a ridiculous discount on Zulily. Anyone who has tried to find quality dolls not just with brown skin but also with tightly curled hair will appreciate how great Lulu is.
I'd been hanging on to it until she was older, but after seeing how excited Mari was about big kid dolls, it seemed like the right moment for Lulu. At the birthday dinner, with our extended family gathered around the table, Mari unwrapped the big box and saw Lulu's face peeking out. She gasped, then gave a little scream of joy. Lulu was brought out and celebrated and hugged. It was delightful.
Then my brother and sister-in-law handed her their present. Their big, boxy present.
I'm sure you see where this is going.
Oh, yes. JULIE. They gave her a freaking Julie.
They had no idea she wanted Julie. None. They could not tell you a thing about the Amer.ican Girl dolls' mystique or how much they cost or about the 1,000 different AG dolls there are available to buy. (Nor did they check with me before giving her such a big present--bad form!) No, they were mere pawns in Mari's successful attempt to bend the universe to her will.
My brother and his wife were visiting an out-of-state friend around New Year's and telling him about their niece who loved baby dolls. "I won this doll at work," he said, pulling a box out of a closet. "It's not a baby. Do you think she'd like it?" They said sure, he handed it over, and they left happy they didn't need to bother shopping for her birthday, not knowing they held Mari's little dream in their hands.
And that is how Mari got her Julie. And how poor Lulu was pushed out of the spotlight in record time. And how I started to worry what else Mari was wishing for.
PS As if to rub it in, Julie came with a little booklet titled, "How to care for your doll with straight hair."