Sometimes our kids throw us for a loop. Just when you think you've got them figured out, their likes, their dislikes, their interests, etc., they change everything on you. They're a bit like volcanos which have the same volcanic activity for years and then, all of the sudden and for no apparent reason, erupt and everyone is taken by complete surprise.
This is what happened in our family yesterday.
You see, we are visiting my sister and her family in Texas this week. And, as we all know, there is a certain place here which nearly all little girls are drawn. What is it?
The American Girl Store.
Once our girls got wind of the fact that such a store existed, there was no getting out of it. They had to see it. It was a must. So when we took them to the Galleria to ice skate and it was way too crowded to have any fun at all, they started begging to be taken to the doll store instead.
What could we do? They had seen the darn place when we drove in.
Fine. We walked them over there, half hoping a huge meteor would crash into the place mere moments before we arrived (and miraculously no one would be hurt, of course).
But no such luck. There it was, gleaming like the lost treasures of the Titanic, beckoning to my wide-eyed children.
It was incredible. It was like little girls everywhere were making their pilgrimage to the Promised Land. Mecca. They had glazed eyes and open mouths as they looked around, barely noticing when their parents called out to them not to run into the glass displays. It was almost as if some kind of intoxicating gas had been released into the air and little girls were having out of body experiences.
So anyway, my children entered this holy place. It would not have been inappropriate in their view for the hallelujah chorus to sound as they crossed the threshold.
Beautiful dolls EVERYWHERE. Their hair was perfectly smoothed and curled. The displays showed dolls having tea parties and sleepovers and riding ponies and sitting at their school desks. It was pretty unbelievable. Heck, it made ME wish I could have a doll.
We toured the doll salon, where girls were watching with glassy eyes as their baby dolls were being restored to their original beauty. The masses of tangled plastic hair and toddler applied ink pen tattoos being easily and magically removed. Bows and barrettes and even necklaces and earrings were being applied. There were giggles of delight from girls and shivers of dread from parents as they watched their doll's hair bill growing and growing with each spray of mousse and each sparkly headband.
We saw the little restaurant where mothers and daughters were sharing a treat with their dolls in a high chair at the table.
We looked at the "just like me" collection where you can choose exactly what your doll looks like.
But sadly, the moment had to come sometime and this was it. The girls finally realized we meant it when we'd said they weren't getting a doll (and before you judge us too much, please remember that Christmas was a mere TWO days ago and they got more toys and junk than any child should have, really). Two of the three girls handled the sad reality quite well, all things considered.
One of them, however, was just downright distraught.
Devastated. The world as she knew it was over. Her big chocolate drop eyes brimming with tears, she looked into her daddy's eyes and begged forlornly for a baby doll. Little girls passing by us on every side clutching small bits of their college funds in the form of dolls.
In a moment of genius, I remembered that they'd received Target gift cards from their grandmother.
Perfect!! I knelt down and shared the happy news with my daughter that she could go to Target to pick out her own doll there. And in the miracle of a lifetime, she looked up at us with a big smile and said, "okay". She then proceeded to inform the doll consultant employee of our plans to go straight to Target to buy the knock-off. I quickly swept her away and smiled and offered a nervous laugh. Kids say the darndest things.
So, our mostly happy little entourage made our way back to the parking garage.
And THIS is when the "terrible awful" (to use a phrase from "The Help") went down.
Standing at the elevator, I mentioned how funny it was to see the dolls sitting in salon chairs getting their hair done. And adult in our family which was not me laughed and said, "yeah, Olivia, I didn't see any dolls in that place that had a haircut like your doll's does."
You should know that Christmas morning she got a little carried away with the scissors and her doll, Elizabeth. She pretty much ravaged the poor girl's tangled locks. The doll looks a little like Chucky now, bald spots and hair sticking up every which way.
Back to the story...Olivia looked at her daddy and stayed quiet. But then, it was just too much for her. Her hazel brown eyes filled with tears, her face scrunched up, and she looked down just as the first sob escaped.
You ever seen a man who wishes he could crawl into the nearest hole?
There are few things worse than making your child cry because you hurt their feelings. But this is what I was talking about...just when you think you know your children, they switch it up on you! Olivia doesn't care one bit about dolls. Never has. She's always preferred stuffed animals and pet shops to dolls. One would assume a comment like that would be laughed at. I suppose being at the mecca of doll world just wasn't the right time to use that joke.
Daddy wrapped a reluctant Olivia in his arms and said he was sorry. We all tried to talk about Elizabeth's good qualities and lie about how cute her new haircut looked. "She's got a GREAT personality," we all assured her.
Olivia just looked at us with tears streaming down her cheeks and told us to "throw her away".
I'll make a long story short(er).
Daddy, Olivia, and Lauren ended their day in Texas by going to Target to buy not one, but TWO new dolls.
Lauren named her blonde haired, blue-eyed doll "Maurice". (I just really don't know.)
Olivia, back to her true self after being removed from the poison gas at the doll store, chose a Fur Real penguin.
Daddy will never again tease a little girl about her doll's haircut. No matter if the thing has a mohawk, a bob, or is totally bald.
I just sat back and watched as he spent considerably more than the gift cards were for.
Thanks a lot, American Girl.