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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I Wanna Be Barbie

I was just over at one of my favorite blogs: Crack You Whip. We were discussing Barbie--you know, the doll that has everything--not my erstwhile chemistry lab partner with whom I blew things up in lab on a constant basis.

This is the doll who comes with her own everything. My daughter used to use Barbie's pink Cadillac to whack her brothers over the head. That doll had real light-up lamps, several desks with opening drawers, a bazillion shoes, record players, numerous pets, a four poster bed with canopy, her own princess line phone, Pepto pink dream house full of furniture, along with a full travel agency and matching pink luggage with real closures. And that's not even close to all she has. That's just all we have. I am selling, by the way. Give me an offer.

But what the heck? It seems like kids can't make believe any more. There's no "Pretend like you just floated past Pluto on your way to the outer rim of the galaxy." I asked my daughter why she needed a new Barbie.
"'Cause this doll looks like Queen Amidala (or Belle or whichever other character was new on the movies)."
"Well why don't you just make her a dress that looks like Amidala?" I'd ask.
Then I'd get 'The Look'. The "Oh Mom, you're simply hopeless" look.

What's the deal with her wardrobe anyway? She should just hand over the wardrobe with the travel agency, since she only wears one dress. She never uses the rest of them. One dress and then they replace her with another Barbie in a different outfit. I'm sure glad my Hubs hasn't figured out he could turn me in for another chicklet with a bra the size of a couple of connected hubcaps and a different dress. At least I come with interchangeable apparel.

The most my kids ever did was undress Barbie and do hideous things to her matted hair. They weren't like me and my sister (who, by the way, didn't get a TV until the late seventies). We were constantly playing with dolls. We never had Barbies, though. We had Madam Alexander dolls and Little Kiddles and my mom's old Kewpie dolls (To this day my sister won't have that doll on her shelf because its smile creeps her right out.) and some antique Little Women dolls and a plethora of other odds and ends.

 We actually knew how to really play. We made up stories for our dolls by the hour. We actually didn't mind getting sent to our room because A. there were dolls and B. there were books. Our dolls didn't need their own travel agency. They didn't even need space ships. All they needed were imagination and something to build houses with (covers, books, blocks, your little brother's Leggos, anything). There were endless iterations, scenarios out the ying-yang, and grandiose, marvelous castles in the air.

These kids now, who have grown up on the Internet and ready-made TV and now iPodamusses and iPadillacs and schnoodlygoops and Gooseberries and what all else, don't know how to play. Seriously. They can program the heck out of your cell phone but they can't spend an hour creatively playing dolls. The closest they get is undressing them.

And the boys aren't much different. They have enough Leggos to choke a horse, but they can't build anything that isn't on the box (and that only if they've still got the directions). We bought them scads of Bionicles and the bits just sit in huge boxes or all over the floor, waiting for the unsuspecting walker to fall into their traps. Caltrop anyone? You should have heard them when I asked if their bionicle guy ever went to the bathroom or sat down for a late night snack. They looked at me like I'd just lost the only remaining brain cell I'd ever developed.

It's a crying shame, I tell you. Media is telling them how to be. They learn that to solve a problem, first you freak out, then you consult Google. Then your therapist. Then, if it still hasn't solved itself, you give up.

How did we let this happen? Was it because we were so busy with all the new media that we forgot to make them play? Heck, I remember when they first wheeled in that chuggy new video machine to Bio. "You don't need me to run the projector?" I asked.
"No, but you can figure out how to make this new contraption run."
After that it was all movies all the time. We're stuffed with movies which cram their own ideas of what should happen and how things should look and feel and sound right down our throats. Often we ask them to!

Now kids spend the better part of their day Facebooking friends and Tweeting and texting and a bazillion other things we never even dreamed of, even in our wildest doll games.


But they still can't figure out how to give Barbie more than one dress at a time.

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