Friday, November 12, 2010

Our American Girl

What would you say if your daughter asked for a $95 doll? 

We said, “That’s not something we’d like to spend $95 on, but you can buy it yourself.”  A major disappointment, as you can imagine.  P has eyed American Girl dolls for a while, but her need for one began this year, after she enjoyed all 6 of the books about the historically fictional Felicity, from Colonial Williamsburg.  As if by marketing magic, an American Girl catalog arrived in our mailbox shortly after the books were completed.  And, this catalog announced, Felicity would be heading into the American Girl archives, never to be sold again, after this Christmas.  (This coincidence I really can’t explain.)

 So, P began the process of saving her own money for the impossible dream of owning Felicity.  She gathered her birthday money and allowance.  She did jobs around the house, even though she believes that I don’t pay enough.  (I pro-rate most jobs so that the kids’ labor is worth about $5/hour.  Is that exorbitant? miserly?)  To get to the point, P actually reached the goal last week--95 whole dollars!

Though, at first, we hoped P would get distracted and buy something we thought was more valuable, we ultimately became her cheerleaders.  It was as if we were witnessing some 95 yard touchdown rush.  When I saw the goal getting close, I actually wanted her to have the prize.  And then, something happened that I didn’t expect.

P didn’t buy Felicity.  She started asking questions. 

“What would I do with the doll?" 
"What if I change my mind later?”

These were questions I’d wanted to pose all along but didn’t, because it’s terrible to be young and have a goal ruined by big people who think they always know better.  These were questions I didn’t need to answer.  

Have you ever wanted something you couldn't have?  I have.  Its power to distract is staggering.  That same desire within reach, though, is almost disarmed--as if we then have more space in which to decide whether we truly want it.  Why is that?  I don't know yet.  I also don't know whether P will end up with her doll.  But now, we both know a little better which American Girl has the real power over this decision. 


  1. Sounds like P is a very intelligent child! I love the fact that you didn't ruin her dreams of having the doll and let her realize that for herself. You are raising a wonderful girl as well as one that can go for what she wants but in the end really question whether it is really worth it or if she should be buying a need rather than a want. CHEERS to you!

  2. You're such an eloquent writer. I see many phone calls to an older and wiser sister in future years. Can't wait to read more!

  3. Just has to let you know that my company just got awarded a job to "American Girl" in Virginia. Thought what a coincidence and had a good chuckle too.