March 02, 2012

Wherein My Daughter Bends the Universe to Her Will

Mari turned four years old last month. She has been very, very into baby dolls for quite awhile now, rarely leaving the house without one of her wee ones along with her.

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.
  1. Marian is four years old.
  2. Her love affair with Julie would likely be over before the daffodils bloomed. 
  3. American Girl dolls cost approximately a bazillion dollars.
  4. Julie looks like this:
    With her straight blond hair and iconic whiteness, it's not exactly the doll I'd choose for Mari to fawn over during her formative years.
Some family members asked me what Mari wanted for her birthday, but I didn't bother to tell them about her Julie lust lest someone encourage her. But I heard about Julie several times a day, every day for weeks. "Is it my birthday? How many days until I get my Julie? Did you know I'm getting a Julie? Julie will be in a bag and I will play with her. I'm getting a Julie for my birthday, Mama. I love Julie." Julie, Julie, Julie.

"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."


salamanda76 said...

My daughter is about to turn 5 and she loves American Girl. I actually don't mind them because the books are good bits of history with strong female role models. I've been reading her a chapter from their books every night for I can't even remember how long now. We're currently on Josefina. My favorites were absolutely the Addy books. She, by far, has the most compelling story with her escape from slavery and the author is probably the best of the bunch.

My daughter has the American Girl doll that my mom bought for me when they first came out (Samantha, who they don't make anymore), but we've not been able to afford such a luxury otherwise. We've gotten her the mini dolls that go for about $20 each. The newest books are about two girls, one white and one black, who live in New Orleans and become friends. My mother wanted to buy her one of the large dolls so my daughter picked out Marie-Grace, the white girl, but wants Cecile, the black girl, so much, too, that she's doing little jobs around the house to earn money to buy it.

I suppose my point here is that you can use her love of Julie to introduce her to the stories and the other, more diverse, dolls.

But really, what were the odds that it worked out that way for your daughter? That is an amazing coincidence.

Sonya said...

THAT is priceless! I believe God heard her prayers....I don't believe in coincidences....that was a "God Wink"!! ;o)

Jenn said...

I literally said "Oh. My. God." When I read to the end of your post. Seriously. It was sort of funny though... :-)

Lisa said...

Oh, I hate this too! My daughter has a dozen barbies...only two of them are blonde. She prefers the blonde barbie or the one with straight brown hair to the half-dozen varieties of brown-skinned beauties. WHY?!

Anonymous said...

Wow, that's crazy. The only good is at least Lulu was opened first so she got a (brief) moment in the sun. Oh and the fact your child is magic could be kind of cool, you just have to figure out how to get her to use her powers for good (or at least in a way that benefits you)

Kate said...

Crap. That sucks - what are the odds? My little one just turned two and has been a dinosaur freak for a few months now (we're big on not doing the "girl toy" "boy toy" thing - we really want her to play develop her own interests without pressure from the folks at mattel). We went for a playdate last weekend to friends who have imbibed all kinds of the gender koolaid and actually have a boy's side of the playroom and a girl's side (cars, transformers and lego on one side, dolls, dolls and dolls on the other, and neither the brother nor the sister crosses the line). Our daughter met her first barbie and two bazillion lily white dolls (our girl is lily white, but her playdate friend is not - a whole different story). Suddenly it's all about the damn dolls in our house. A whole week of diapering and rocking and bottle feeding her one doll. So this morning, I was insanely happy when I stumbled upon her with dinosaur in one hand, doll in the other, and doll's leg in the dinosaur's mouth. Nothing against dolls per se, but I don't want the crazy playdate friend's mother's issues to make my kid drop her dino love!

Heather said...

@Jenn - It was a funny moment--all the adults laughed 'til we got teary after I explained what had happened. Mari couldn't understand what was so funny!

Anonymous said...

At least Julie's books cover Title IX?! Seriously, they do. That's a pretty good lesson.

You can't fight magic.

Robyn C said...

I've loved all of the American Girls since I was about 13. By the time I found out about them, I was "too old" for them, plus they cost $100 a piece. My son wants Molly. His best friend's older sister is an American Girl FANATIC, so he knows all about them. I've been getting the Addy books at library book sales, and I hope she'll have an Addy to play with someday. Julie's not so bad. As salamanda76 said, you can use her to get Mari into the books for all of the dolls, which are very empowering.

Kelly said...

Mea has also started obsessing about American Girl dolls. The one good thing, is that her older sister had a few of them. They have now become Mea's.

The biggest issue I have with the AG dolls is that even the AA doll doesn't have truly ethnic hair.

There is a series of dolls at Toys R Us, that are the same size as AG dolls, with afro puff ponytails, and it is about a third of the price of AG.

Lavonne said...

oh. my. word. that is the best story ever. while i commiserate with you and the fact that she got her's pretty awesome how it happened!

Geochick said...

Bending the universe indeed! How crazy! Although I guess I'm surprised they gave her a lily white straight blond haired doll.

Logical Libby said...

My Meg wants Julie too. She also loves her dolls with hair "like hers" though. I figure it's a balancing act. As long as it doesn't bankrupt me.

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