Lindsey is having an American Girl doll kind of birthday. Ever since Marissa used her Christmas money to buy herself one in February, it's all Lindsey's talked about. She's a bit late to the American Girl party -- the average age of an American Girl doll buyer is six.
Let me back up a bit, for those who aren't familiar with the phenomenon which is American Girl.
For years I threw away every AG catalog that found its way into our mailbox. The dolls are expensive and the accessories even more insanely priced. I never wanted my girls to get into these, it seemed like such a waste. Finally one day when Lindsey was six or seven, she retrieved the mail and a catalog was in with the offerings. She came in to the house and started looking. And looking. And looking. And finally she brought the catalog over to me and said, "Mom! You wouldn't believe how expensive these dolls are!"
I thought we were safe.
But Marissa has friends who have American Girl dolls, and Marissa really wanted one so she could play with her doll with her friends. An American Girl doll entered our home in February.
There are books and movies about American Girl doll characters, some of which follow the characters through history, others of which are about building character, creating strong, confident selves. I have to admit, I agree with the sentiments.
The "Just Like Me" dolls -- of which there are around 60 varieties and girls can choose dolls that have similar features to themselves -- cost $110. The glasses that Lindsey's doll is wearing were $28. The outfits are $28 to $34. For a doll, mind you, a doll. I don't spend that much on my own kids' clothes, much less a doll's clothes.
But when you enter the American Girl Doll two-story store at the Mall of America, the experience is magical. The display cases are beautiful, the props displayed in such a way that even adults think they're adorable. There is a beauty salon where you can take your doll to have her hair styled. If your doll's hair is matted and tangled, they'll fix it for you. If you'd like to get your doll's ears pierced, you can do that as well. There is an American Girl cafe where you can eat with your doll, actual food for you and pretend food for your doll.
The experience is every little girl's dream. Lindsey couldn't wait to go shopping to pick out her doll, who she's named Paris. We agreed that her parents would buy her the doll, and accessories and other things would come out of her birthday money.
In speaking to other parents about Lindsey's excitement about her American Girl doll, some will admit that their child has two or three American Girl dolls. And I say "admit" because they often will abashedly explain that Grandma had purchased one of them, another one came from an aunt, etc. We all know it's frivolous, expensive, and such an excessive purchase for our girls.
Yet a co-worker of mine reminisces with fondness about her daughter, now age 16, purchasing her first American Girl doll, buying matching outfits, and the joy it brought to her. They cared for the doll so that now that play time is done, the doll is carefully stored away in her original box, ready to hand down to the next generation.
What can I say...it's more than a doll.