Pretty In Pink

28 Jun

For the most part, I’ve gotten off pretty easy on the girlie-girl scale.

A Blue’s Clues obsession trumped any interest in the Disney princesses, followed by Scooby Doo in lieu of Bratz Dolls. Of course, at her first-grade party, she invited the whole class and ended up with enough Barbies to field a Dallas Cowboy’s Cheerleading Squad.

They mostly stayed stuffed in a drawer until a few years later, when a friend was spending the night. During an unsupervised time when I thought the girls were sleeping, the two of them gave all the Barbies insane asylum buzz cuts and colored their faces zombie green.

I tried to be dismayed about the useless destruction. But you know, Barbie had it coming.

My girl never hated dolls, but she’s never been one for stereotypes. A middle-schooler now, she came home telling me she was trying out for a Midsummer Night’s Dream at school. For the role of Peter Quince. Because “well, Shakespeare didn’t write a lot of good parts for girls.”

She got the role.

So, it caught me by surprise when the subject of American Girl dolls came up. I love the idea of the dolls, all accompanied by their own historical fiction book, filled with smart and strong role models. But their target market isn’t exactly Twilight-reading ‘tweens. And she didn’t just want the doll. She wanted to go to Dallas and get her doll from the American Girl store.

So, I set goals for her grades. She started saving her allowance and set her sights on Julie: the doll from the 1970s who challenges her school for the right to play basketball with the boys because they don’t have a team for girls. Perfect.

And this weekend, it was time.

American Girl Store

In Dallas, where everything is big, the American Girl doll store is still amazing. Next to the Galleria, but in its own building, it boasts two stories dedicated to dolls.

Downstairs, nothing but dolls and their accessories, and girls. Lots and lots of squealing little girls. In the midst of them, my almost-teenager, making a beeline for Julie.

We bought her, and at the counter, the sales clerk said “would you like me to take Julie out of the box?”

“Of course,” she said.

And as they handed her the doll, I watched the hands of time spin backwards.

“Mom,” she said. “I can’t stop petting her hair.”

And then, it was time to take Julie to the second floor where they have a hair salon and ear-piercing station. FOR THE DOLLS.

The women working on the dolls are very serious. VERY serious. However, since Julie was fresh from the box, we opted not to spend another $20 getting her hair done. But we did eat lunch in the American Girl Bistro.

Julie did not eat, but she did get her own chair. I wanted to roll my eyes at this, but every table had dolls in their own chairs. And when one little girl next to us got up and left hers behind, M quickly rushed to tell a waitress, who explained that doll was a lunchtime loaner for girls who left their dolls at home.

A little girl at the table beside us, probably about 5, also had Julie. She talked dolls with M, wide-eyed that this big girl with braces had the same doll she had. She asked her dad to take their picture. On the other side of our table, another little girl told my daughter how she almost got Julie, but chose Lanie, the doll of the year. M told her she looked like her doll, and she beamed.

Then, as we were leaving, the girl rushed over and pressed a bracelet into my daughter’s hand. “I made it with my grandma,” she said. “I make lots of things with her, and I want you to have this one.”

I looked at her mom, wanting to make sure it was ok, and realized we were both barely holding in tears. M took the bracelet, wrapped it twice around Julie’s doll arm. “Look, it’s perfect,” she said.

The little girl beamed. “Keep it forever, ok?” Then, she threw her arms around M. And right there in the American Girl Doll store, I watched my daughter, in the midst of dealing with cliques and boys and all the drama of middle school, hug her too, transported back to an age when making friends was just that easy.

And that, I think, was worth the trip.

19 Responses to “Pretty In Pink”

  1. Jenny June 28, 2010 at 8:45 pm #

    My #2 is quite the opposite. She ordered her American Girl doll (made to look like her) amidst the younger years of wearing only dresses, ballet lessons, and Disney Princesses. She was as girlie as they come. And as the middle school years are upon us as well, that doll sits as my reminder of days before boys, facebook, and talking back. May your not-so-little doll and her little doll always know the sweetest of days…

    • lettergirl June 30, 2010 at 8:01 am #

      Oh Jenny, we get the boys, facebook and sassiness too! I think those little girls are still in there, though!

  2. Emily June 28, 2010 at 8:52 pm #

    This is my new favorite post!

    I told you that I have Samantha – I got her because she looks like me. 🙂 I saved up all of my birthday and Christmas money (I was 8) and bought her myself… too bad my first doll was on a shipment that fell off a truck and was run over.

    True story – I took the call from UPS myself and laughed. They sent a free skin care kit with the replacement doll as an apology.

    Anyway, I just thought you might find that little story funny. 🙂

    • lettergirl June 30, 2010 at 7:57 am #

      I love (not) how the computer changes “I was 8” to “I was a cool smilie face.” And you DO look like Samantha.

  3. Shari Biediger June 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm #

    A small piece of advice from one AG mom who’s been there: Start a little savings now for when your daughter’s unruly girlfriend spends the night and decides to trim Julie’s bangs and you must must must send her to the AG Hospital where she will be given a replacement head of hair and a certificate of wellness. (And thanks for taking me back about seven years to a similarly wondrous day in Chicago with my own girls.)

    • lettergirl June 30, 2010 at 7:59 am #

      Oh gosh, Shari! My greatest fear is she’ll be left somewhere the Jack Russell terrier decides to eat a finger. I wonder if they do limb replacement?

  4. Alexandra June 29, 2010 at 7:44 am #

    Hi, came over based on a thankyou write up to you, on

    I like you, so I subscribed. Excellent writing, and so very friendly.

    Thank you!

    • lettergirl June 30, 2010 at 8:00 am #

      Thanks, Alexandra! Going to check your site out now. =)

  5. Jacki June 29, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    I was in love with the American Girl stories when Ivwad a kid, and still am. I haven’t read any of the new additions after the original five, but I would like to. Back when I wad in my pink phase my favorite was Samantha, but Kirsten was the doll I ended up loving. Didn’t play with her much because I didn’t want to mess up her braids. My parents have her somewhere and I remember getting all the activity booklets for her. I think she became my favorite because she had to move from everything she knew and that definitely resonates with a double army brat.

    Wonderful post!

    • lettergirl June 30, 2010 at 8:03 am #

      I love how even as grownups you and Emily know why you picked the American Girl doll you did. The power of the back story.

  6. Elle June 29, 2010 at 10:24 am #

    What an amazing experience–such sweet memories you two made that day. I look at my girls, and oh, they’re growing up so quickly. I need them to slow down.

    As always, a wonderful post.

    • lettergirl June 30, 2010 at 8:04 am #

      Thanks, Elle. You are raising beautiful, strong girls.

  7. ingrid June 29, 2010 at 10:48 am #

    Aw, you’re doing such a terrific job. M seems like an amazing little girl, a lot like her mama.

    My babygirl moves into middle school this year and the twins into high school. I’m not sure if they’re nervous or scared but I sure am.

    • lettergirl June 30, 2010 at 8:05 am #

      Gulp! High school? They will all be ok, Ingrid. You’ve raised them well.

  8. Sherry Carr-Smith June 29, 2010 at 12:45 pm #

    The doll part of the story is great, but I love how you capture the generous spirit of your M. You are definitely doing something right, and I’m betting she’s a lot like her mom.

    • lettergirl June 30, 2010 at 8:06 am #

      Ha, she is. On her best days, but especially worst days. Having a child who is a lot like you is a great way to stay humble. 🙂

  9. RJ Flamingo June 30, 2010 at 9:58 am #

    I don’t even have kids, but there’s a lump in my throat. Sigh!

  10. Vanessa June 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm #

    I am brought to tears reading this. Just when we think our little girls are getting so big, there are moments that just remind us they are still “little”. Those moments are treasured forever!


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    […] 30 Jun So, I know I got a little mushy about the American Girl doll store. […]

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