As many of you know, I’ve been selected as one of the 8 moms who participate in The Barbie project, which is insanely awesome. This is one of my absolute favorite stories about Barbie, as it takes the idea of her being a role model and influencing a child to be a better person to a whole new level. About two years ago, one of my daughter’s friends, Ella came over for their first playdate and brought over a bag of Barbies, as Ry had requested.
At my house, Ry usually chooses to be the Barbies that have the most coiffed hair, the cutest outfits and matching shoes or at least two shoes. So, this was a great way to avoid arguing over who gets to be whom. The first doll Ry grabbed was a soccer player which a pink ball and high socks, “I’m her.” she said. “You know she’s missing a shoe?” Ella questioned.
Ry: “Yeah, I know, but she has both socks and a ball and a trophy.”
Ella: “Cool” (then she pulled out a doll from her back which was donning a bathing suit and surfer shorts) “I’m her. She’s my favorite,” she said, staking her claim.
Ry: “You know she’s missing an arm?” (asked in the same tone as the missing shoe comment, but as if it was clearly a bigger deal.)
Ella: “Duh! She’s Bethany Hamilton from Soul Surfer.”
Ry hadn’t seen or heard of the movie… but I had. “I didn’t even know they made a Barbie of her. That’s really cool.” I replied, holding my hand out to see her doll.
Ella: “They didn’t, I made her.”
She had just handed me the doll as I noticed an empty socket.
Ella: “I pulled her arm off.”
Ry: “You can do that?” (Asked, as if it may be a punishable crime. I handed it back and walked away to let them play, as I really didn’t know how to process the creepy armless doll I’d just been handed.)
Part of me was wondering if this was some odd equivalent to pulling wings of a butterfly or burning ants with a magnifying glass or shooting at squirrels with a BB gun — all things I’d seen kids do when I was young and I abhorred. Should I let this playdate continue? Will Ry start decapitating teddy bears when Ella goes home?
I stood behind the door and listened in, which by the way is totally OK if you’re a parent and also if you’re worried your child is playing with a psychopath. Over the next few minutes I heard Ella explain how amazing Bethany is and why she’s her idol. How she overcame this awful accident and learned a new way to rise to the top of her sport. I heard how she almost gave up, but didn’t and how she pulled the arm of a Barbie. She explained that no one should ever tell you that you CAN’T do anything and if they do… you shouldn’t believe them.
It was as if she’d been hired to give a peer lecture. It was amazing and upon hearing it, I was pretty sure she’d never slice a worm in half. Then I overheard Ry asking if her soccer player could play with one arm. “Duh!” Ella said, which I’m pretty sure from the tone could be translated as, “Did you not hear what I was telling you? Of course she can!”
Then they decided to ask me if they could pull off her arm. I scooted away from the door in a flurry and made it to the edge of the kitchen where I pretended to be looking in a junk drawer for … junk. “I found it,” I declared to throw off any suspicion.
“Mom, mom, you’re probably gonna say no because she’s new and all, and you’re gonna think this is a really weird question, but can I take the arm off the soccer player?” Ry asked and then elaborated as to why it wouldn’t be ruining a doll it would just be giving her more character (I’m paraphrasing as it was a long explanation). I considered expounding on why that was such a great idea, but sometimes nothing needs to be added to a perfect conversation, so I simply went with, “Yep, let me know if you need any help.”
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This post is a part of the The Barbie Project with the hashtag #BarbieProject — stories thoughts and opinion are mine all mine. Thanks Barbie for choosing me to be a part of something I feel like I’ve always been a part of!