Sister and I had a doozy of a conversation about a year ago, when she was still 6 years old. It started off with her declaring, "I hate President Bush!"
I was unsure which route to go first--the easy, we-don't-use-hate one, or the harder one in which I explained how declarations like this would likely get her into trouble. I chose easy first. "Sister, we've talked about the word 'hate' before. 'Hate' is an ugly and awful word, and I really don't like hearing it come out of your mouth. You're too young to hate anyone, and I hope you never will!"
"Okay," she said, "I don't hate him then. But I really don't like him at all, Mama."
Sigh. "Well, do you want to tell me why you dislike the President so much?"
"Because he chops down all the forests and builds Barbie factories where all the trees and animals used to be," she told me with disgust.
"Sister, I just want to tell you that when you...what did you just say?!"
My ex-mother-in-law, a former hippie and a near-communist leftie, must've been proseltyzing again. This time, perhaps not so successfully as she might have hoped. Or maybe this was right on target? I don't know. I assure you that I don't teach Sister things like this.
I wasn't intending to turn this into a post about kids and politics, though perhaps that's a post for another day. Rather, this post is about Barbie. Sister has always had a simple relationship with Barbie. She's always declared in no uncertain terms that she just really doesn't like Barbies and prefers stuffed animals, thank you very much. She's had one single Barbie for about 4 years or so now, a premature gift from my mother one Christmas that she has seldom played with.
That is, until yesterday. Yesterday, there was a package waiting for her when she got home from school. It was from Husband's aunt and uncle who are nothing if not generous with the children's gifts at any holiday, birthday, or even season change. When Sister opened it, lo and behold, there was a brown-haired Barbie with 3 different outfits, including accessories like plastic shoes and fairy wings. I responded for her, "A Barbie! Well, I've always like Barbies, although I know you've said you don't care for Barbies that much." I looked up at Sister, who was still staring silently at the Barbie--but raptly silent and not disappointedly silent.
"I used to not like Barbies because their commercials are so...," and here she grappled for a word, "...girly. But I just changed my mind," she breathed. She slid off her stool to go unite the new Barbie with the other, older Barbie. My Barbie-hating daughter stayed back in her room, changing their outfits and making them talk to each other for the next hour. Then she took them on our walk with the dog. She laid them in the dish drainer while she set the table for dinner. She slept with them last night. And this morning, she brought them out with her for breakfast. Has my bug-loving, tadpole-catching, mudpie-stirring daughter just become girly? We'll see...