My niece discovered American Girl dolls recently. I’m not that familiar with these dolls as I missed the doll years of my stepdaughters’ lives. But at the ripe old age of forty-two, I am about to become an expert.
It all started innocently enough. My niece and I were at dinner with my parents when my niece started talking about these dolls. Apparently, they come in all different eye and hair colors. You can order one that looks like you. Plus they have outfits and props, blah, blah, blah. Not that I didn’t pay attention but I’m way more of a Barbie doll fan, myself. I can talk Barbie all day, but that’s not going to be an option. We’ve moved onward and upward.
When I returned home after dinner, my husband asked what the eight-year-old was doing. I mentioned the American Girl doll obsession. His eyes lit up. This brought back a slew of memories for him. You see, he was the dad who drove his girls to adopt Lee Middleton dolls one state over. He was the dad who bought his girls American Doll girls with eyes and hair matching each of the girls. He was the dad who took said girls and all of these dolls to tea parties with friends and their dolls.
“Tell her we are going to get her the doll for her birthday,” he stated matter of fact.
“How much are these dolls?” the pragmatist in me asked.
“It doesn’t matter. My girls had the dolls. Every little girl needs these dolls. It’s a thing.” He then proceeded to pick up his cell phone and call his youngest daughter.
“Kate, Jillian wants an American Girl doll.”
I heard her squealing in the background. Yes, squealing.
It’s almost as if they were awaiting this right of passage. Like a Catholic dad waiting for his daughter’s First Communion. Or a mom picking out her daughter’s first training bra.
They continued this conversation for the next 10 minutes, only stopping to pass along the details of the American Girl doll world to me.
There’s a store. You can pick the one that looks like you. You can even take your doll to a tea party at the store. Gara, get on your phone and find the nearest store.
And I did.
I texted my niece that, yes, we would buy her the doll for upcoming birthday. (The fact that I could text my niece is a whole other story.) My mom called that following weekend to share with me the excitement that text inspired in my niece.
I called my niece today to discuss the doll purchase.
“Aunt Gara,” she says sweetly, “have you heard of Easton?”
(This is bad news for me. I do know what Easton is. It’s a shopping center about three hours from my home where my mother and I have been known to shack up in a hotel, spread out multiple cheesecakes from the Cheesecake Factory on our beds and eye our recently made purchases until the next day when we repeat the process.)
I see where this is going. The child has been informed that an American Girl doll store exists where I shop for shoes. She knows that I’m always in the market for shoes. After all, she’s waiting to grow into my size. She also knows that Aunt Gara and her Maw (my mom) need to look for gowns to wear to Cousin Kate’s wedding. In her tiny head, it all comes together. Hmmm….If I can get Aunt Gara to go to Easton, she can get a dress for Kate’s wedding and I can get a doll. Two birds one stone.
I called my husband.
“DO YOU KNOW WHO JUST TOLD ME SHE WANTS TO GO TO EASTON?,” I yell into the phone.
He’s not surprised. In fact, all he can do is laugh. He’s been through this before. This is old hat for him. He’s been suckered many times before.
Now it’s my turn.
Here we come, Easton. American Girl doll, clothes, props, tea party, hotel and Cheesecake Factory included. Maybe I’ll have a few bucks left over for some shoes.