My daughter has yet to form attachments to her baby dolls. She has plenty—mostly gifts from relatives—but she seems to prefer playing with stuffed animals or painting, coloring, or other art forms. The bigger the mess, the better.
For Christmas she did ask for a baby doll she could play with in the bathtub, and her grandmother was more than happy to buy her one. Occasionally she plays with it around the house, usually it’s naked and for some reason, maybe because she got it at Christmastime, she named him Jesus. It’s a little unnerving to be in the middle of fixing dinner and hear, “Look, Mom! Jesus can do the splits!” and turn to see her hold the doll by his legs. He also sports a label on his chest and recently evoked an equally unsettling proclamation of, “Look, Mom! Jesus has a tattoo!”
When her friend Morgen’s mom invited us to the newly opened American Girl Boutique and Bistro in Dallas, we unearthed her American Girl doll from its unlikely home in a basket in the laundry room and went along. The doll was a hand-me-down from my friend Jennifer who has four daughters and more than twice that many dolls. When her twins outgrew their love for American Girl, my daughter inherited a brown-eyed, light brown-haired Just Like Me doll—that really looks Not At All Like Me.
But at four-years-old, she not exactly keen to their marketing tactics. To her, she’s just a doll. That’s what I thought until we got to the store and fell victim to all its trappings. The friendly sales staff, the books, the clothes and accessories, and The Doll of the Year: MIA. What a coincidence that it happens to share her name!
It wasn’t too bad. I was able to put her off when she started campaigning to bring one home. Her birthday is in July and I told her she could ask for one as a gift, crossing my fingers that she’d forget about her by then. Instead we found a dress for her doll, similar to one she owns, and bought a much-needed hairbrush for the doll.
As we were checking out, the saleswoman asked Mia the name of her doll, probably something she learned at American Girl U: Ask each child the name of her doll. Then ask if _____needs a new outfit, bedroom suite, riding pony or a makeover. (Yes, they have a styling salon for dolls.) Mia just shrugged her shoulders and said, “I don’t know, she just a Mexican cheerleader.”
Now the doll did have on a cheerleader uniform, but she doesn’t look one bit Hispanic. But apparently she does to Mia. The saleswoman laughed nervously and was momentarily speechless. I guess that response wasn’t in the training manual, so she didn’t have a comeback. Good thing. How do you say, “Priceless!” in Spanish?