This column first ran in the Joplin Globe in January of 2005.
Last week, the very fabric of the American family was on the verge of coming apart.
Of course, by the “American family,” I mean my family.
The threat to the fabric (I’m going to say denim) of my family did not come in the form of the NFL playoffs, which I will watch pretty much nonstop this weekend while my wife and 6-year-old daughter Emma will…well, I’m not sure what they will do but I hope they have fun.
No, the threat I’m talking about came in the form of something called an American Girl Doll.
For those of you who don’t have 6-year-old daughters, I should tell you that the American Girl Doll is a bugged-eyed doll roughly the size of Tom Cruise.
Emma wants an American Girl Doll very, very badly. How badly, you ask? Well, in the preceding sentence I used the word “very” two times. That should tell you something.
The problem-at least for my wife and me-is American Girl Dolls are very, very, very expensive.
How expensive, you ask? Again, count the verys.
To give you an idea how expensive an American Girl Doll is, I refer to the following quote from the famed economist John Maynard Keynes.
“Holy #%@# those American Girl Dolls are WAY expensive.”
The thing is, Emma didn’t know she wanted an American Girl Doll until she and my wife watched a Hallmark Channel movie that featured an American Girl Doll. This may come as a shock to some of you who aren’t parents of 6-year-old girls, but the movie was produced, in part, by the people who make the American Girl Doll.
Emma loved the movie and for Christmas, Santa brought Emma an American Girl movie on DVD and a small replica of an American Girl Doll. Santa, however, did not bring Emma a real American Girl Doll because-let’s face it-Santa didn’t get where he is by being stupid.
Even on Christmas Day, Emma wasn’t sure she wanted an American Girl Doll but then something, we didn’t expect to happen, happened: An American Girl Doll catalog arrived in the mail.
Apparently, when “Santa” brought Emma the American Girl Doll stuff, “he” put Emma on an American Girl Doll mailing list.
Giving a 6-year-old girl an American Girl Doll catalog is like giving Bill O’Reilly a cell phone with unlimited minutes and no roaming charges.
For the past week, Emma has been walking around our house carrying her American Girl Doll catalog and sighing. Because we raised Emma correctly, she hasn’t been walking around our house constantly dropping hints that she wanted an American Girl Doll.
She just came right out and said she wanted an American Girl Doll.
Me: Good morning Emma.
Emma: Daddy, I want an American Girl Doll.
My wife and I are not inclined to get Emma an American Girl Doll for three reasons.
Reason No. 1– Emma already has 4,895 dolls.
Reason No. B-We want Emma to learn that she can’t always get everything she wants.
And, perhaps, most importantly:
Reason No. III-American Girl Dolls are WAY expensive.
But we’re not totally heartless. Because Emma has quite an extensive financial portfolio consisting of tooth-fairy money and grandmother and aunt and uncle money, my wife and I told Emma that if she used some of her own money, plus whatever money should could earn by helping around the house, she might be able to get an American Girl Doll when she graduates from college.
Just kidding. We told Emma if she worked hard, we would help her buy an American Girl Doll in the spring. Maybe.
Kids hate when parents add a “Maybe” to a possible kid-parent deal. But parents know if they don’t add a “Maybe” to a possible kid-parent deal they lose all of their leverage.
And, as everyone knows leverage is a big deal in any possible kid-parent deal.
But, a few days ago, Emma discovered something. The large, 24-hour retail store in our town carries something called a Tolly Doll. The Tolly Doll looks like an American Girl Doll but is petty much the opposite of WAY expensive.
When Emma found out that she had enough of her own money to buy a Tolly Doll now, she weighed that fact against the “maybe” kid-parent possible American Girl Doll in the spring deal and opted for the Tolly Doll.
Now, all I have to do is keep that Tiffany’s catalog away from my wife.
P.S.: In the interest of fair disclosure. I should point out that Emma did get an American Girl later that year. And, no, we didn’t make her help pay for it.