Diddy is one girly-girly-girly-girl. Despite my best efforts to dress her in neutrals and blues and green, from the moment she could point/scream, she has been all pink, pink, pink.
(OK: so she’s a girly-girl with a dash of drag queen fabulous thrown in.)
And she likes to amass THINGS. She gets this from her Grandmere Checklist, who got it from HER mom. Those THINGS have to be part of a COLLECTION, which is an attitude she gets from MrBigIdeas. (No, I am not shitting on our collections, honey. I love our collections. I’m just pointing out that this is slightly more you, than me.)
My girly consumerist collector is EXACTLY the sort of child that the marketers at American Girl dream about. Given her druthers, she would own every single American Girl item available for sale.
Unfortunately for her, I just can not for even one second justify buying my 5 year-old daughter a doll that costs $105 or more. I just can’t do it. Can not can not can not.
Not because it’s just ridiculous to spend that kind of money on a doll she is a) expected to use/batter and b) will surely tire of LONG before I am satisfied by it’s cost-per-use, but because I am trying to teach my kids how to use money responsibly, how to save, how to comparison shop.
So, for many months – slightly over a year, in fact – I was able to substitute the Target version, called Our Generation Dolls, for what seems to be, among Diddy’s friends, the de riguer American Girl (or two, or three, or six).
They’re so close to the real thing, in fact, that I wouldn’t be surprised if they are manufactured by the same company. (Just saying. Have literally no proof, and can’t find any.)
I bought Diddy her first Our Generation Doll for Chanukah last year. She quickly became obsessed with collecting more of these dolls, which she called American Girls (I didn’t disabuse her of this, by the way).
Every time we went to Target she wanted a new one.
I am not that Mom. My kids don’t walk out of a shampoo-and-toilet-paper-run with big bags of kid swag. They just don’t.
However, Diddy’s DEEP DEEP DESIRE for more Our Generation dolls became a focus of our weekly allowance talks, and she managed to save up, over the course of a year, for four more dolls.
I was really proud of her. Life was good.
Then, early in the summer, a friend of hers pointed out the American Girl store at the Grove – and made very clear to Diddy that HER dolls were not QUITE the same thing.
Diddy became OBSESSED with visiting that store.
I became OBSESSED with holding my ground and
A $105 DOLL.
So I decided to take Diddy comparison shopping. One day when we had a little time to kill we grabbed a coffee and chocolate milk at the Farmer’s Market and I brought Diddy with me to Anthropologie, while I looked for a dress. The deal was, if she behaved, we’d go check out American Girl.
I made a big show of not buying a dress I really liked because I wanted to keep shopping at other stores, so I could see what else was there, and if there were any dresses I liked that were less expensive.
Then we went to American Girl.
Before we stepped inside, I told Diddy this was an EXPERIENCE DAY, not a GIFT DAY.
Then we crossed the threshold together, and angels sang. I mean, seriously, they’ve got it going on in there. Stacks of dolls. Accessories for miles. Cool little dioramas everywhere to show you how YOUR life with YOUR VAST COLLECTION of American Girls could be. I mean, the dolls are seriously styled in a way I could only DREAM to be.
We did not go upstairs. Lord help me if she’d seen the restaurant, or the salon, or whatever it is every other kid in LA seems to visit weekly.
Regardless, my kid was over the moon.
Then I showed her how much the doll she wanted cost.
Her eyes got really huge. “A hundred dollars?”
She was shocked. SCORE ONE FOR MOMMY!
“How much are the Target dolls?”
“The one you want right now is $29.”
I nearly died of pride. We walked around the store together, checking out the various accessories, most of them priced around the same as an actual Our Generation DOLL, and decided that all those accessories would be fine for Diddy’s dolls – the clothes would fit, the instruments and pets and camping accouterment would be properly scaled.
“Mom,” Diddy said. “I’ve got a good plan. How about I keep collecting Our Generation dolls, and if I want, I can save up for stuff for my dolls they sell here?”
That, I said, was an excellent plan.
I then tried to explain to Diddy that what she had just done was called a reconnaissance trip.
She couldn’t have cared less. Still, the point was made, and we continue to make that point as often as we can – maybe we should get the gold shoes WITHOUT the sequins, because the sequins just fall off, and hey, the ones without the sequins COST LESS too! Ooh, look, Trader Joe’s Os cost LESS than Cheerios! We like Joe’s Os …
You know the irony of all this? With the holidays coming up again, and Diddy turning six in January. I can’t stop thinking about the American Girl store.
- Do I fold, and buy her one special doll for her birthday? I do strongly believe that the best gifts are things you can’t/won’t buy yourself …
- Do I go completely nuts, and take her and that doll for TEA? Because we all know how I feel about the value of an experience …
- Or do I follow the program, and just surprise her with a ton of American Girl swag for her Our Generation dolls? This, at least, would keep the American Girl Pandora box pretty firmly closed ..
I’d be delighted if you guys would weigh in, please. Believe it or not, I am truly truly torn.