All-American Girl

July 12, 2012

Back in April or May, I got an e-mail notifying me that the studio where my daughter used to take dance lessons was offering a special:  half-off on their summer camps.  She decided it might be fun; it had been a year since she’d been to dance and apparently she was missing it.  I looked over the age-appropriate options and asked if she’d rather go to the morning or afternoon class; after much thought, morning was her final verdict.  I then told my daughter about the theme:  by choosing the morning session, “American Girl” was the topic, which meant that all the girls could bring their dolls and take their dance lessons together.  Ever since that moment July 9th couldn’t get here fast enough for her.

I really do think the camp was a sweet idea, but I have to admit that “American Girl” dolls bother me.  There’s something disconcerting–to say the least–about dolls that come with more possessions than many people in the world own.  (One of my favorite “Arthur” episodes on PBS is all about “World Girl” dolls, and one of the characters is surprised to learn that her favorite doll is no longer being made.  “She’s from Tibet,” explains the saleslady.  “It’s a Buddhist country….it didn’t generate enough accessories.”)  Clothes, bedroom sets, pets…..That doesn’t even get into the prices, of both the dolls and all their “stuff.”  And, of course, there’s always more; now there’s a “girl of the year” each year, with her own interests and “stuff.”  And I haven’t even talked about the books.

So while I was excited to see how excited my daughter was, I admit I was a little concerned about how the actual week would go over.  Would there be a lot of they all have the real thing and I don’t?  They had a different doll every day and I only had one?  They had matching outfits for each day of the week and I didn’t? 

Nope.  We just finished day three, and I’m so pleased with how it’s gone.  She came home the first day telling me “who” each of her new friends had, without bitterness or complaint; not only that, but she wasn’t the only girl without “a real one.”  Each day she tells me about a new friend she’s made.  I’ve heard a total of one whole comment about a girl who dressed to match her doll, and it was stated in eagerness, not in jealousy.  Four of them huddled around an American Girl catalog this morning, before class started, and I caught a bit of her part of the conversation:  “I don’t have many clothes to match my doll.  But we do have matching ‘Kit’ pajamas!”  Way to focus on the positive, kiddo.

I wish I could bottle her attitude; keep it for a time in the future when she gets caught up in what others have and she doesn’t.  So far, she seems to have been gifted with an amazingly grateful heart.  I hope that doesn’t change too much.

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