Facebook has done it again. When I think I have no ideas for a new blog post, a Facebook exchange with a stranger will remind me of something in my past to write about. The post was a Ukranian girl sitting in a window, holding a weapon. The caption said, “While American tweens are playing with Barbies . . .”
I responded that tween girls don’t play with Barbies. Little girls play with Barbies. Then a stranger shot back that Tweens are little girls. Then I responded with, “I meant 3-6 year old girls.”
That jolted a memory of my youngest daughter in kindergarten. She had a whole bunch of Barbie dolls and played with them regularly . . . until Maddie, the cutest boy in class, got wind of it. He didn’t approve of Barbie dolls. He told my daughter. This is what happened next.
“Mom, I don’t want my Barbie dolls anymore.”
“You don’t? Why not?”
“Because Maddie says Barbies are dumb.”
Actually, Barbies are dumb, because a real woman with those proportions would topple over from the huge breasts. Also, her pants would fall off, with no hips to hold them up. And don’t get me started on those eyes and blue eye shadow (the original Barbies). I had them as a kid, so I shared the tradition with my daughters.
But I digress.
I gathered up her Barbies and told my youngest I would get rid of them. But instead of donating them, I put them in a box in the attic.
Maddie came over to play many times, and the two of them played with Pokemon and the middle child’s cars and trucks. Maddie and my youngest were adorable together. But then summer came, and Maddie told us he was going to Catholic school the following year to repeat kindergarten. Apparently, he was too young to go to first grade at a parochial school.
Guess what? Suddenly my daughter wanted her Barbie dolls back. No longer having to appease her judge-y friend, she felt free to play with the top-heavy fashion icon in plastic. I got them down from the attic, my child never questioning why I still had them.
Fast forward twenty-some years. My daughter would no more compromise her principles to appease a man than she would borrow my clothes. She has grown into her feminist self, with a little help from her mom, sibs, and girlfriends.
We still have those Barbie dolls somewhere. They are wildly disproportionate, but who cares? They’re a part of her childhood, and she’s always had trouble letting go of that. As in, she’s not ready to be a boring adult. She cares about kids and how they think. I put toys under the Christmas tree, only now they’re toys from my children’s childhood, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, action heroes, Barbie dolls, and Harry Potter dolls, too.
Why, you ask? I write children’s books, and I like to keep toys around to remind me what it’s like to be a kid. That’s my target audience. That’s who I write for.
Speaking of kids, I wonder what ever happened to Maddie.