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Thursday, 31 July 2014
My daughter has fallen head over heels in love.
It has happened before.
But never like this.

Now, I consider myself a very tolerant person. 
And so far, my daughter's passions have been only what I expect from *my* daughter.
Dogs. Horses. Whales. Dolphins. Lions.
She is an animal lover to the core.

And her friend Blake, but mostly because she and he agreed that a husband does whatever his wife tells him. And because she wants babies and has watched enough nature shows to know she needs a 'mate'.

She also loves to climb trees and to draw.
To be a secret ninja super spy (all dressed in long black clothing and a black balaclava on a hot summer day).
She loves to swim and read.
Her imagination is as big as the sky.

She is a pretty well-rounded kid, with a little obsessiveness thanks to her OCD and her Asperger-like tendencies.

(The poor employee in the paint department at Home Depot who decided to 'educate' Rowan ~ who was looking for colours for her dream chicken coop~ about raising chickens by telling her they like fresh air. Oh boy. I enjoyed a peaceful 15 minutes or so of my own colour browsing before I decided to save the unfortunate soul from the Lore & History of Chicken Raising Past, Present and Forever which is stored in my daughter's brain.)

Her 9th birthday is approaching and she has known clearly what she wants for some time.
A carving knife.
An archery set.
And a dragon cake OR a cake in the shape of the carcass of something a dragon killed.
{{have I mentioned that I adore this child?!}}

Pretty cool, right?
Makes my feminist heart sing.
Without pressure, and with being allowed to follow her own interests, my daughter believes in a world where she can love what she loves without it belonging to any specific gender.
But then it happened.

We went to get the mail.
In the mail there was... an American Girl catalogue.
*insert dramatic musical sting here*
'Great news'~ they are coming to Canada!
Oh yay.

(I was mostly annoyed that Chapters/Indigo spammed us, and wouldn't have given it another thought.)

After all, Rowan has never touched a doll.
I had a custom Waldorf doll made for her 3rd Christmas. She opened it, shrugged, said "her name is Sarah and here, Mom, you can have her." and that was that.
My mother loves dolls, but Rowan has never taken to any of the dolls Grandma has given her, and finds the dolls *at* Grandma's house 'creepy'~ I don't disagree, especially the 100 year old papier mache headed doll with the head half caved in!

But Rowan took one look at that AG catalogue and tumbled into love.
Visions of crushes yet to come unfolded in my mind.
My daughter became a swoony, obsessed little changeling.
And really, I ask you... does a mother have to tolerate even this love?!
A Canadian mother?
(Yes, I know Maple Lea dolls exist, but lack the cache of the AG dolls in my child's eyes).
And worse? Rowan has scoured that entire catalogue, practically worn it out and has chosen the ONE doll she simply MUST have.

The long haired blonde with aquamarine blue eyes!
Not a spunky brunette with flashing brown eyes...
but, and I quote, 'the MOST Beautiful of Them All'!
It's not that I object, wholly, to the idea of dolls, or even to American Girl which, in the case of the Historical dolls like Caroline, has stories and other ways to engage in the history of girls in North America that are age appropriate and, as near as I can tell, girl positive. And it isn't Barbie.

It is just that I am surprised!
I think I made the mistake of assuming that I knew the trajectory of my child's interests, that I could predict based on past behaviour, and by how well they aligned with my own as a girl.
And then the American Girls arrived in our mailbox.
And I have to step back and look at the unique person my daughter is and is becoming as she moves into middle childhood (I hate the term 'tween'!) and more into her own independent world.

She will have wants and passions and experiences all her own.
Of course I know this, cognitively, but there is still that mothering part of me that is holding the hand of my three year old, or rocking my baby to sleep, even when I am arguing with my almost-9 year old or letting her clean and bandage her own skinned knee.

And she will have her own loves... dolls, books, boys, friends, places...
And her own heartaches and heartbreaks.
And triumphs and failures all her own.
In the next few years she is going to have a lot more of all of this.

Whether or not Caroline moves from catalogue to actuality remains to be seen.
But her presence has already made itself known in our lives.
Something about her is qualitatively different than other crushes.
She is the scout for a new territory.
The pioneer staking the first claim.
The marshal in the parade of my daughter's growing up.

And really, who doesn't love a parade?!

Welcome to the family, Caroline.

What was the moment you realized your child had turned a corner towards a new stage in her life? How did you feel? Comments welcome and encouraged!


Natalia said...

Well, when i was 10 years old i was dreaming about Barbie doll but my parents couldn't afford it.
Know i am an adult doll collector who create doll rooms, sew the clothes for dolls.
A week ago i bought the doll which i was dreaming about 17 years ago.
It's quite funny beacuse she travelled overseas, and cost me 1/2 of price it cost in 1998. I felt like little girl when i was unboxing it.
Now i'm wondering if i was in the same point of live, if parents could buy me a doll then. Who knows.

Unknown said...

Growing up in the 60's and 70's, naturally my sister and I were in love with Barbie. Now these days $2.75 isn't much, but back then it was an expensive doll and so were the clothes and accessories. My parents didn't have a lot of money, but my sister and I each got one for Christmas. Since the expensive clothes were out of the question, we learned to knit and sew our own. For materials, we raided my grandmother's scrap bags.

Those days have served us well. I have made lots of doll clothes over the years. These days, I'm doing things for my granddaughter's American Girl dolls (she has 2) and I have taken to restoring used dolls and making clothes, beds, and accessories for some of her friends whose parents couldn't afford it. The reactions of these little girls makes all the work worthwhile. Scour thrift stores and use your imagination and you can come up with some pretty cool things for not a lot of money.

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