Today we came home from school to discover that Savannah’s (weird, trashy, but favorite) My Little Pony “Barbie” had been severely mauled by Mr. Biffles. Savannah was understandably horrified. (Bif lacked any signs of remorse.)
Hearing Savvy’s cries of shock and grief, Avery and I made quick work of a rescue mission. Avery got the silver duct tape while I performed CPR. I patched up the arms and leg while Avery applied the defibrillator (a Shopkin), as Savvy hesitantly looked on. Soon the doll was stabilized and the wailing subsided. Avery declared the doll “still beautiful.” I offered that her name could be “Ilene,” as she was now missing one foot. Savvy was unpersuaded.
This led me into a speech about the danger of leaving your doll in harm’s way, staying vigilant about your doll’s surroundings, and understanding that while we’d like to believe that no dog would harm our dolls, we must face the reality that it’s better to take precautions to be safe rather than sorry. I soon realized I was lecturing my daughters about personal safety and self defense.
I don’t know that Savvy absorbed much of it, but I knew Avery did when she said, “you always have to trust your feelings instead of being polite. Because a nice person would understand if you weren’t polite, but a tricky person would try to make you feel bad.” Then she added, “you also have to watch out for coyotes. And if someone’s chasing you and you step in a mud puddle, don’t stop to clean your shoes.” Savvy finally agreed that her doll is still beautiful and can live a full life, serving as an example for other dolls who have faced brutality and disability.
For now, my girls are still mine. My littles. But there will come a day when they are all their own, relying on their own voices instead of mine to tell them what to do, say and think. On one hand, we teach our kids to love everybody, no matter if they look and act different from you. We also have to teach them that some people are bad, tricky people who seem nice at first, and you need to know the signs so you can protect yourself.
I know it was just a doll and that some people may find this all terribly dramatic. That’s fair. But when I hear my children drawing connections for themselves, recognizing safety practices and valuing diversity and the power of a positive, inclusive attitude, I feel like this whole parenting experiment could actually end up with two really cool, smart, kind women in the world someday. Sometimes it’s okay to be dramatic if it results in your kids taking a proactive role in their own safety. Sometimes important conversations are facilitated by random, everyday things and we should capitalize on these opportunities to educate our children early and often. Sometimes lessons come in the form of disabled, scantily-clad, overly skinny My Little Pony horse-girl hybrids.
Just go with it. Do your best.
From Broke to Woke
My Little Lecture
Guys ‘n’ Dolls
Babes in Toyland vs. Women in the 21st Century
Dog Eat Doll World
Duct Tape Fixes Everything. Except Violence Against Women.