I recently surprised my daughter by allowing her to choose a doll to bring home at American Girl Place on a visit to New York City. The dolls there are $105. All of her other dolls are from thrift stores, garage sales, children’s consignment shops, Ebay or Target’s 75% off sales.
She was shocked and worried about the cost. I’m a freelance writer, still struggling to find my way and build a solid base of connections. She knows how long I have to type away to make $105 (plus the $30 each for the couple of outfits we got her!). However, I assured her that I wanted to purchase the doll for her. I think every little girl should have a very special doll that she picks out herself.
She picked out a doll with long black hair, brown eyes and tan skin. She named her Kimberly. Kimberly looks very similar to my daughter.
My husband and I adopted our sweet girl from the foster care system three and a half years ago. It was a challenge at first to find dolls who look Hispanic like her without looking like a cartoon, such as Dora the Explorer. I finally found a few secondhand and am thrilled that they seem to be more common now.
My daughter immediately made up a back story for Kimberly. She said Kimberly was exhausted because the workers at the American Girl store make the dolls stand around and look cute all day instead of letting them rest. When she had trouble changing the doll into a pair of jeans we bought for her, my daughter said it was because Kimberly gained weight since we let her have food. She said they starve the dolls at the American Girl store.
She also told us that Kimberly was very frightened of meeting her dad. She said Kimberly was afraid that he wouldn’t like her and would hit her. She thought he wouldn’t understand all that she’d been through.
My daughter assured her new doll that her dad never hits and would love and understand. She had the same worries at first, she told Kimberly, but she knows she’s safe in our house now.
My daughter is twelve and past the age most of her friends are playing with dolls, but I’m glad she is still open to pretend play. Kimberly has been very therapeutic for her. She’s helping process and put words to the trauma of her past. If I knew what a good tool this would turn out to be, I would have let her choose her own doll the week she came home.