Tuesday, October 2, 2012

She Was, An American Girl...Doll

Well, we had a decent run. All good things must come to an end, I guess. After three daughters and eleven years as a parent I suppose I should be happy that we are just now being captured by the mania that is the American Girl franchise.

Sure, we had purchased a few movies and books before-they had wonderful messages about how to treat yourself and others. The girls loved the books but had never really had more than a passing interest in the dolls. Until…

Both younger girls gave us the doll request in the same week. Repeatedly. And Again. And again. Agh! Then at the craft show at church, they encountered about 6,542 homemade-doll-clothing vendors.


“We reeeeaaaallllly love them!”

“I would play with her every day!” (a nod to our repeated reminders that they have not always played with the things they craved beyond the day they received them-well played).

And so, a couple of weeks ago, we bought them each their own gateway drug, I mean doll.

We did a lot of research and informal polling of cult members to see what the differences were between the actual American Girl dolls and the other 18” dolls like Our Generation from Target or Marie Alexander dolls, etc. The general consensus was that they were all pretty similar, but that the hair was the biggest difference. Since the price difference was about $80 between generic and real deal, we bought the generics as test dolls.

They went crazy. Ca-ray-zee! You would think that Hally and Eva were gold-plated. Good so far.

Once they started really playing with the dolls we truly did start to see the hair issue rear its ugly head. Hair pulled out, dulled and snarled, and this was after “salon” work with a doll hairbrush and water. The hair is not tragic, and by no means dimmed the joy of their young “mamas” but I could see the difference.

So all is well in suburban doll land, yes?

I say Nay, Nay.

"Shhhhh, she's not a real AG Doll!"
The youngest had the pleasure of being invited to a party at the giant Mecca of doll-maniacs (Anne, I’m talking to you) -The American Girl store. Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!! (hear that like an angel chorus, not a horror-flick scream). She was to bring her doll (we figured the generic would squeak by) and was ecstatic.

We arrived early to the party so that I could get a handle on the whole AG scene. It was imposing and impressive and intoxicating-even to the un-dolly among us (me). She looked at everything. EVERYTHING. Books, dolls, shoes, clothes, accessories, movies, salon, bistro, everything. Then she fell in love with “Doll #27” out of all of the other dolls in the store.

She flirted with the notion of “Caroline” who is the historical doll of the year. I was surprised when she walked away and settled on #27, a modern-styled doll with blonde hair and blue eyes and “beautiful low-lights”. Yes, the helpful associate actually informed us that the doll had “beautiful low-lights”. I was so outmatched, this was a pro!

After informing me that her sister “reeeeeeally wanted McKenna” the gymnastics-loving modern doll of the year, she abandoned her sisterly pleading and went back to self-preservation. She set about asking me if “I bought her doll yet” every time I saw her for the next two hours. I reminded her that her birthday was a month away and that we would, vaguely, “see”.

She went up to her party and I will neither confirm nor deny whether I purchased the dolls for them that day. I did buy them each a few accessories and some great movies marked down to $5.00 each. The only thing in the store that low, by the way.

As I wandered around the Galleria waiting for the party to end, wrestling with the decision to buy or not to buy the real deal, I walked into Williams Sonoma. I couldn’t help it, the store has a magnetic pull on me. I started chatting with a clerk over the pumpkin cake pops. She said something that struck me:

“I have daughters that are almost grown now, and I will tell you that the girls who played with those dolls stayed little girls longer. They stayed innocent longer and it kept them from watching and reading some really bad stuff. If it costs me $100 or $200 to keep them young a few more years, here’s the cash.”

A really good point. How much is too much to pay to keep childhood a little longer? Very material point here, I know, but pretty darn true.

Flash forward to my full indoctrination in the process. The American Girl store sells a lot of outfits for girls to match their dolls' outfits. And they are proud of them. I thought, in my brilliance, that I would make the two dolls, Hally and Eva, Christmas pajama pants that match the girls’ jammie pants I made last year. I had scraps and a newly reconditioned sewing machine so I went for it.

"See the jammie pants?"
I borrowed a pair of 18” doll pants and made a pattern by trial and error, using the same method I used to make the girls’ pants. One caveat here…dolls’ feet don’t bend, knees don’t bend and they don’t bend at the waist. Flannel really doesn’t stretch. After two failed attempts, I finally got a size and shape that fit the dolls. Now they have matching jammies! For free!

“I love them!!!!” I heard.

"They're just like mine!" I heard.

“Now can you make dresses and skirts and shirts and pants and………”

Maybe not the best idea on my part.

Keep checking back to see if this house will have two more dolls in December. My lips are sealed!

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