You have to hand it to Barbie -- she's looking good at 52. That icon of the toy world celebrated her birthday yesterday. Back in 1959, on March 9, she made her debut and has been going strong ever since.
Well, it was quite apropos that on Barbie's birthday, my daughter saw an ad for some sort of Barbie. Maybe it was a Barbie pool or a new type of Barbie. I dunno. It was plastic and pink and girlie and she wanted it. She knows her birthday is coming up and, as she sat mesmerized by the pinkygirliegoodness of Barbie, she exclaimed, "Mama! I want that! For my birthday, I WANT THAT!"
Kiddo's turning 4. I thought I had a little more time before she entered the Barbie Era. I thought maybe, just maybe, she wouldn't be into Barbies.
Can a mom of a little girl ever avoid the Barbie Situation?
The funny thing is I had Barbies. I had the Barbie pool, the Barbie corvette, Barbie's man Ken and Barbie's sidekick Skipper. I think I had some sort of Barbie dog as well. My father still talks about staying up late one Christmas Eve circa 1979 putting together the Dream House -- the one that was A-Line and had three main parts. I don't think they even make that version any more.
I played with Barbies. Not a lot, but I did. I usually had my Star Wars action figures launch attacks on her and take over the Dream House as an outpost for the Rebel Alliance. But, yes, I played with Barbies.
So why do I have such a problem buying one for my daughter?
When it comes down to it, I just don't think Barbie is a great toy. Yes, she has a buttload of accessories and accoutrement. You can change her clothes and do her hair, but there's not much else. Barbie is boring.
Kiddo has a great imagination. She makes up worlds, worlds with dinosaurs and her 131 stuffed cats. She builds amazing structures with her blocks and anything else she can find. I don't want to stifle all of that by giving her a Barbie, but at some point I'm going to have to ... or have the Barbie Situation come back and haunt me in her therapy session 22 years from now. Even if we don't watch TV, even if I never took her to another toy store ever again, she sees them at her little friends' houses when she's there for play dates. There is no avoiding Barbie.
A mom cannot avoid the Barbie Situation. So what am I gonna do? I'm going to control the Barbie Situation. I don't have to make it a big deal. I can believe that Kiddo won't be totally transformed into a different girl just because of a boring, yet pretty piece of plastic. If Barbie ends up like every other doll Kiddo has, Barbie will spend most of her time in the toy bucket, played with once every 38 days.
Maybe Kiddo will be like me, kick Barbie to the Dream House curb and have her dinosaurs move into the mansion.
Will you buy your daughter a Barbie?
Image via ianmacm/Flickr