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There are some things I find necessary for little girls.

Things like bicycles, barrettes and summer dresses.

But bicycles, barrettes and summer dresses…for dolls?

Yes, I’m talking about A. Girl Dolls. I don’t know what it is. Part of me wants to hide in my room and play with these adorable dolls and their very cute and tiny accessories, while the other part of me can’t possible fathom paying for a miniature sofa with coordinating throw pillows so a doll can relax and unwind after a full day of pretend. (Yes, I know many of these dolls represent historical figures and teach great lessons, but when a play bedroom set costs as much as a designer hand bag, I can’t help but vent about it. And yes, in case you’re thinking I’m a total Scrooge…Santa has come through with some very cool American Girl Doll gifts that I sometimes find myself playing with on a rainy day.)

So, when I took my daughter and mother-in-law to the American Girl Doll flagship store in New York City, three full floors of what I can only describe as a doll-museum-meets-Macy’s-on-meds, I thought I’d died and went to doll heaven. Or doll purgatory, given some of the crazy females that surrounded us with spray-on tans, luggage-size European handbags and diamond rings that could give you a black eye if you stood too close. I didn’t know what to think, but I have to say, my daughter was excited. So we were too. 2013-11-30 10.34.46

We thought we’d simply play our part as good tourists, browse around, shop a bit and take some pictures. But as soon as we stepped off the escalator, we caught a glimpse of the second floor main attraction. Walking past aisles of fashionable outfits on mini hangers, we saw a pink sign that read, “Doll Hair Salon”. Walking closer, all I could say was “Oh my…GOODNESS” “Oh my GOODNESS”. There was a long row of stylists working at a mock spa, each standing behind mini salon chairs. And a crowd of little women (and their moms) waiting in line.

I felt like clicking my heels together because I KNEW we weren’t in reality Kansas anymore.

Within minutes, we were sucked into an American Girl Doll-in-Wonderland brain2013-11-30 10.34.40 wash.

A 20-something stylist approached us and asked, “Would you like to make an appointment?”

She wasn’t talking about an appointment for my daughter. Or me. Although,  I could have used a blow-out.

She was talking about my daughter’s doll. Or my daughter’s doll’s hair to be exact.

I never thought I’d live to see the day. My daughter was all smiles, and I was practically choking on my own vomit excitement. If you took one look at her doll, Isabella, from the dirty bare plastic feet on up to its tangly ‘do, you’d know it needed some TLC, Stacey and Clinton style.

After 10 excruciating minutes, the doll’s appointment finally came. Isabella was seated in a mini pleather parlor chair as a stylist brushed out her long dark brown hair. After struggling through a few snarls, the stylist looked directly at me and said, “You see this mini-braid, mom?”

“Yes.” I said, forcing a straight face, still staring at everything around me in disbelief.

“You have to watch out for this.”

“OK,” I said, admiring her combing technique.

“You can’t do mini braids like this anymore.”

“OK….. sorry,” (How could I be so irresponsible!?)

“It causes major damage.”

“OK. I’ll keep that in mind. Thanks.”

Months ago, one of my daughter’s friends made a small braid on one part of Isabella’s hair during a play date.   I was feeling that icky, guilty feeling you get at the dentist’s office when he cleans your teeth after you’ve devoured half a bag of mini-Reese’s peanut butter cups.

But then I reminded myself: This is a doll. You can’t possibly feel guilty for damaging DOLL HAIR.

After all, I didn’t braid it, her friend did.

Right?

And I digress.

I tried to stifle it, but when the stylist started massaging and polishing the doll’s face with a tiny wet spa towel, I couldn’t take it anymore. I started to giggle. Out loud. As I laughed out loud with my mother-in-law and other mothers watching their daughter’s dolls get a full beauty treatment, some cackled along with me, while others were as stone-faced as their five-year-old mini-me’s. Think of a PG version of Real Housewives of New Jersey. With dolls. The RHWONJ-look-alikes  were surrounding us. And none of them were laughing.

I was beginning to feel like Alice. Almost everyone was under 4 10, including my very sweet Italian mother-in-law.

And every display, every piece of furniture was made for a doll.

Everything about our visit was surreal. But fun at the same time. The look on my daughter’s face, as if we had entered a magical kingdom filled with unicorns, made it all worth it.

My daughter was disappointed that our visit didn’t last forever. Unfortunately, we couldn’t fit in an appointment at the faux café upstairs because we had to run to a Broadway show. It was too bad, because I really could have used a shot cup of pretend tea.

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