She begs me to allow her to get an Instagram account. She pleads with me to let her sit in the front seat. She does her own hair – usually in a braid or messy bun. She packs her own lunch. She is capable of doing her own laundry (but rarely does). Her bathroom duties are her own business, and she wears deodorant.
She and her friends are allowed to roam and socialize at a high school football game. She just toured the middle school she’ll attend next year. It has lockers. She has her own sense of style, and she’s my sounding board when I’m questioning my own.
My only daughter is ten and a tween – for better or for worse.
So when I heard that American Girl was coming to Charlotte, I totally thought we had missed the window. She got her first American Girl when she was five and has religiously poured over the catalogs and circled items on every single page, but hasn’t played with dolls much over the last couple of years. Her American Girl gifts at Christmas last year were to be her last, I thought.
The cynical part of me thought: Thank goodness, we missed it. The sentimental part of me thought: Oh goodness, we missed it.
But, then we popped into the new American Girl in SouthPark last week, and something magical happened. Yes, magical. Strong word, I know. One that’s usually only used for Disney. But, trust me, if you could see the face of a tween light up at the sight of a baby doll, you would call it magic, too.
She and her eleven-year-old friend couldn’t get enough of the store. The books, the accessories, the hair salon, the dolls. Those beautiful dolls that don’t require batteries, touch screens, or social media “likes.” The same dolls that don’t talk back to their parents like the characters in every single Disney show do. Those books that aren’t chocked full of cartoons and bubble dialogue – the literary equivalent to junk food that, like a jumbo box of Lucky Charms, my kids can’t get enough of. All of those cute outfits that don’t bare midriffs. Nothing with sex appeal.
They ran from display to display ooh-ing and ahh-ing. Just like you’d think a ten-year-old girl would do. Unless you’ve met a ten-year-old girl in 2014.
The next day I didn’t hear from her for an hour or so, and I walked upstairs thinking she’d be playing on her iTouch – illegally, on a weekday. This is what I found:
She was doing her American Girl doll’s hair. By herself. Without prompting.
It was right then and there that I decided American Girl is to a tween what braids are to a forty-year-old woman: the Fountain of Youth.
American Girl is back on her Christmas list this year. The list she will make for Santa (please, Lord, give me at least one more year of Christmas magic!!). Santa will probably go heavier on the books than accessories, but that’s up to him to decide.
And I’ve never felt luckier to be in Charlotte than I do right now. My tween and I might be clubbin’ in the food court (because that’s really what you do at the SouthPark Food Court – see last year’s blog), but never fear. We can pop right over to American Girl to get youth restored and a solid fix of wholesomeness.
American Girl came to Charlotte, and I thought I was out of time. It turns out that it came just in the nick of time.
This is a wonderful article. I have a 6 yr old boy but this still touched my heart! I will send to my sister who has a 10 yr old in Tennessee. Thanks!
Thank you, Monica, and thank you for sharing it with your sis!!