Sunday, September 1, 2013

I've Been Dreading This Day, And It Finally Came

I've mentioned that Petunia's birthday is coming up.  There was a big annual get-together for extended family and friends at my in-laws' house yesterday, and this party traditionally includes a celebration of her birthday since it is always held within a few days of her actual birthdate.  (The Princess Tiana cake was ordered for this event.)

Petunia's godparents (a cousin of Himself's and the cousin's wife) were able to attend the party this year for the first time in a while.  They have two boys, both older than Thing One--one teen, one tween.  Because she never had any daughters, and consequently has largely been deprived of the opportunity to purchase 'girl stuff,' the godmother tends to go a bit overboard with presents for Petunia.  Her birthday present this year was an American Girl doll!

For any who may be blessedly uninitiated into this crazy world, I envy you.  These dolls do have a legitimate educational element, but they are also very expensive (north of $100!) and totally commercialized--books, clothes, toys, furniture, accessories and all sorts of other related paraphernalia are available.  There are 15 stores in major cities entirely devoted to these infernal products.  Friends who have gone to the Manhattan store tell me that it includes a cafe (for mother-daughter-doll teas), a photo studio, and a hair salon--for the dolls.  Individual 'official' outfits for these dolls start at $30 and rise exponentially from there.  In the immortal words of Dave Barry, I am not making any of this up.  For obvious reasons, I've been throwing away the catalogs the second they arrive at our house in an attempt to keep Petunia from ever finding out that these pernicious exercises in marketing exist!

Sadly, Petunia's godmother has now opened her eyes.  Her first words to me after opening the gift: "Mom, can we go buy my doll my more clothes?"  GROWL.

Fortunately, several of the other mothers of girls at the party told me that Michael's sells a line of clothes that fit these dolls and are more reasonably priced.  Hopefully that is in fact the case.  Not that we can't afford some doll clothes, but this company just annoys the hell out of me and I just don't want to buy any of their overpriced, overmarketed stuff on principle!


  1. When I was a kid, I loved books. They were wicked expensive, but I would save all my money and budget for the things I really wanted. I think that having things that were rather expensive that I really wanted was a super valuable life lesson. I know P. is young but the lessons can start about budgeting, learning to prioritize what really matters in the wishlist, how to choose among so many different options, and how to overcome her strong emotion (she's been marketed for sure) to make good choices.

    *Your friend with spin, haha.

  2. This is a good point. She's turning 6 next week, but already does chores for an allowance, so we can start having discussions about saving and using her own money for some things. I just resent the hell out of companies that market to kids...since their ability to make good judgments is still forming (or nonexistent) I spend a lot of time explaining to my kids why they can't have--or shouldn't want--games that are too old for them or sugar-bomb cereals or the latest junk fad toy. I let them make some mistakes, and should probably let them make more!

    1. Maybe (about the mistake-making), but not too many more. Teaching about how we're being manipulated by marketers is soooo valuable. Learning "Wait, I'm just having an emotional reaction because they're manipulating me, and I don't REALLY want that." Maybe through waiting a week to see if the desire is still really there? That sort of thing I don't think we really teach ourselves.

      I wonder how we learn to be organized and frugal and how much is just nature. It always amazes me how different siblings in the same household can be.

  3. I think a lot of it is nature. My brother is a spender and I'm a saver, both raised by the same parents in mostly the same timeframe. I heard somewhere recently that the ability to delay gratification is key to personal success, speaking to your 'wait-a-week' comment. My poor kids: all in elementary school and already subjected to maternal anti-marketing diatribes!! ;)

  4. I don't know whether this is even worse or an interesting alternative source for doll clothes. There is a new book called Crochet for Dolls, and the resulting doll clothes would fit the American girl dolls.

    It is reviewed on a knitter's blog here:

    At 6, Petunia is perhaps too young to make these patterns, but does her godmother crochet?


  5. Thank you for the link and suggestion, Julia! My aunt crochets...she's the only one I know of. Maybe I can get her to teach me!! She made me an amazing lap blanket a few years ago. I'd also thought of asking my mother to make some doll clothes...she is very good with a sewing machine, unlike me. When I was a little girl and loved Barbies, my dad's mom knitted lots of clothes for them as a gift of love. When I finally outgrew my Barbies and gave them away, I kept those knitted clothes, and still have them to this day. Maybe my little girl would treasure handmade gifts from her grandmother too. My mother made her a quilt years ago that she sleeps under every night (she calls it her 'Nana hug'), so there's a good chance. :)


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