Last year, when we asked our then-second grader what she wanted for Christmas, her unexpected reply sent a chill up my spine: “I want an American Girl Doll!” I gulped and tried to get ahold of myself.
When I was in elementary school, I loved (and still do) reading. I was thrilled when the brand new series, “American Girls,” came out. I loved reading the stories of Molly, Samantha and Kirsten. They transported us to another time and taught the girls of the 1980s what it might have been like to live in another era. But now? With their very own collection of exquisite dolls, their accompanying wardrobes and nicer furniture than I have in my living room, the only place the American Girls transport you is the poor house. (Is that not OK to say? Credit counseling, then.)
These dolls ring up at over $100 a pop, and that doesn’t include the designer wardrobe that is downright essential for any upstanding American Girl doll owner. (Mother? Too much?) There are practically a dozen different dolls to choose from, though of course you can also design the doll to look exactly like your daughter.
I remember being perplexed last year to see a Facebook update that read, “WARNING: THE AMERICAN GIRL CATALOG IS IN TODAY’S MAIL!” If only I had known. I would have given anything to have intercepted that damn catalog before my over-zealous, eager-to-fit-in second grader got her greedy little hands on it.
When she told me her plan to ask Santa for an American Girl doll, I knew there was no way we were shelling out that kind of money. I patted myself on the back for my quick thinking when, after I sputtered about how they were too expensive and she promptly countered with, “So what? Santa’s elves can make them!” I immediately dispensed with this thoughtful reply: “Santa doesn’t bring gifts that the children’s parents don’t think are appropriate.” Whew. Side-stepped that dream-crushing land mine. I’d used a similar rationale when explaining why Santa would not be bringing us a puppy the year that her sister was born. Unless he planned on also delivering a year’s supply of red wine, live-in puppy-sitte, and pharmaceutical regimen, Mommy would not be taking care of a new baby and a puppy.
But seriously, folks. $120 for a #$%@ing doll? I don’t think we’re in the Cabbage Patch anymore, Xavier Roberts. (Look it up, Millennials.)
And speaking of Cabbage Patch Dolls, may I present Exhibit A as to why there is no way in hell my 7-year-old will be receiving an American Girl Doll for Christmas? Last year, she begged for a Cabbage Patch Doll, and this is how said doll spends much of her time these days:
Not only that, but she was so psyched about being a Cabbage Patch mama that she spent her Christmas money from her grandparents and bought a companion doll for her gift. That’s right — a second Cabbage Patch Kid. Do you think I have the vaguest idea where this prized possession is at this moment? Hell, no. I couldn’t even track her down for a second (completely unstaged, I promise) photo.
Here’s the thing: if I thought my daughter would cherish and care for an American Girl Doll, I would totally buy her one. (I think.) I would without a doubt buy 7-year-old me in 1985 an AGD. (Can we abbreviate now, please? I’m getting irritated just typing the words out at this point.) I would have adored her, given her a middle name, slept with her and played with her daily. Let’s be honest — my second grader is a far cry from the nurturing mama-in-training that I was when I was 7. And that is completely fine. I have no issue with the fact that fawning over dolls is not my daughter’s thing. But there is no way that I will spend that kind of money on a toy that isn’t really her thing. Unfortunately, after poring over the AGD catalog that arrived that ill-fated day, she decided they most definitely are her thing.
She immediately plastered her walls with posters from the AGD catalog.
So unless I decided to buy the cast-off doll of another fickle child consumer off Craig’s List, the big guy was not going to be bringing a mini-me doll down the chimney that year. So, we decided to go with Plan B: We used our 30% off Kohl’s coupon to buy a rip-off doll instead. And our daughter was thrilled.
Several months after the arrival of “Julia,” my daughter’s cherished pseudo-AGD, I snapped this incriminating photo of said doll in her new place of residence: The top shelf of the closet. Please note her disheveled and unclothed appearance. I rest my case.