The other day, my 10yo daughter, Ry asked me to convince her friend’s mom to let her have Barbie dolls. “I’m so lucky to have a mom like you that will play Barbies with me and doesn’t make me feel stupid or too old, like some of my other friend’s moms,” Ry explained.
Really? I hadn’t realized this was an actual issue. Sure, I’ve heard tales of parents being offended by Barbie’s measurements, but I didn’t think I knew any of those moms. I assumed, all the moms I know are modern women who realize it’s not the doll, it’s the play that matters.
She had a playdate earlier with the friend, who can’t have Barbies. Apparently, this friend’s mother had originally allowed her to play with them, but the friend decided she no longer wanted to and gave them away. It was then that her modern mom shared her true feelings about the dream girl and her dream stuff. She felt it was time her daughter stopped playing with dolls and that she never really liked Barbie or what she stood for anyway: A spoiled, unrealistic female who had lots of jobs but never really had to work to get any of them.
I guess it was an unfortunate turn of events that she became friendly with Ry, who sees the very same doll as smart, bold and capable of accomplishing anything — and in turn, rekindled her friend’s desire to play with these taboo dolls.
While I can not tell another mother what her child should and should not be allowed to own and play with, I wished I could simply relay what happened when the girls played earlier that day.
It went like this:
“Ry, I don’t have any friends,” her friend lamented placing her doll on a Barbie sofa.
“Of course you do,” Ry’s Barbie exclaimed as she put her Barbie arm on her her Barbie shoulder.
“You have a group … I don’t have a group,” her friend continued as she shuffled her Barbie off to the side of Ry’s Barbie townhouse.
“You’re part of my group,” Ry’s Barbie said, following her out of the kitchen, past the open fridge that houses tons of adorably cute mini food stuffs.
“No, you have a different group,” the friend continued as she settled her girl into one of the convertibles parked adjacent to the house.
“I can’t have more than one group?” Ry’s Barbie asked as she got into the passenger side and buckled her seat belt.
“No,” the friend said as she removed her doll and switched her to another parked car.
“So we can’t be friends?” Ry’s Barbie asked sadly, as she exited and came to stand in front of the other car so it couldn’t be moved.
The friend grabbed Ry’s Barbie and put her in the passenger side. “We can be friends, but you have other people, so it’s different. I have no one,” she explained as she pulled out and drove the car around our rug.
“Well change that! Walk up to people and be like ‘Oh heyyy, wanna hang out?'” Ry’s Barbie encouraged with an Oprah-esque enthusiasm. “I didn’t really know you until this year and now we’re great friends. Find the people you like and spend more time with them. They’ll love you. You’re very likable.
(At this point, I was near tears. It was somewhat reminiscent of a cheesy after school special, yet it was brilliant and empathetic and perfectly said. Clearly, her friend was sad and needed to hear those words. Clearly my daughter at 10 is mature enough to make some pretty incredible points and yet she’s not too old to play with dolls. Clearly, if this mom could see what I saw, there would be no convincing necessary.)
The friend stopped the car, moved away from the Barbies, settled into a comfy position and said, “OK, so tell me Ry, who do you think I should talk to first?”
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