Meet Kaya

28 Dec

Kaya with EdamameKaya is the newest addition to my family – requiring her own daily hair brushing, a breakfast of fresh vegetables pulled directly from her garden, and a morning riding lesson in my dining room.  Kaya has clothes from 1764 and from the present day.  Today, she has riding gloves and fashionable shoes. Which she wears without socks.

Yes, Kaya is an American Girl Doll.

We caved, Kelly and I.  Or . . . We had a change of heart.

We grew to appreciate our little girl’s consistent and – periodically but not petulantly stated – desire for an American Girl Doll.  She’s wanted one for two solid years. Unwaveringly.

The truth is, she cares well for the 18-inch dolls she has, each one purchased with her own money — money saved for weeks or months each time.  She enjoys their various outfits.  They’ve accompanied us on multiple trips. They have their own wardrobe bag, their own chairs, sleeping bags, and tent.  She cares very much about their well-being.  But what she really wants has always been an American Girl Doll.

And she has begun to understand money – not so much the counting of it (which she still abhors), but the price attached to things we want, the true value of good workmanship and the sometimes-faux-value of well-marketed brands.  Isn’t this what our “No” was meant to teach?

Kaya RidingTo her, an American Girl Doll is worth the price – with her beautifully crafted knees (more carefully shaped than the knees on her other, less expensive 18-inch dolls), her flexible legs and arms, which not only go up and down but also rotate at the joints like a real person’s.  And her chin!  Her other dolls, my daughter tells me, don’t have chins.  American Girl Dolls have real chins. I hadn’t noticed, but I trust her. She knows what she’s talking about.

And those stories for all the historical dolls!?  My little girl, for the first time ever, eagerly picked up a book about Native Americans. She read it from cover to cover without stopping. My little Mayan girl.

It’s capitalist marketing, I know.  But it’s girl power, too.

When we stood in line at 9 a.m. the day after Christmas, the mom behind us wanted to know how many dolls my little girl had at home (none) and made a big deal over how we were waiting here today to buy her very first one.  Her daughter had eleven American Girl Dolls.  Four came with them.  The girl stared at me coolly, hugging one of the dolls tight to her chest, holding back a smug smile. Barely. She was probably ten years old.  Maybe eleven. My daughter fidgeted, and glanced ahead to see if the doors had opened yet.

This is why we said “No” for two full years – this sense of entitlement, this insatiable need for more, more, more.

Kaya and Miss EAnd yet – after fifteen minutes in the store, so perfectly arranged, so pink, so … educational?… I began to feel the appeal. There is a lure. A feeling to bask in … all that… girl power, all that… history, all those… dolls.

Our daughter is set apart from her peers in so many unchangeable ways, but here is one club to which she can belong. She is thrilled. She is… beyond thrilled.

“You should pick the one who looks like you! She’s the most special,” my niece insisted weeks ago, when my daughter wanted to bring only her pale blonde doll on a trip. The one who looks more like me.  She was going to leave the beautifully brown, black-haired doll at home.

“The blonde one looks like you.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  You’re her mom,” my colleague said, wanting me to see her choice in a new light. Yes. But in our society, and in our family, it’s important for her to see the one who looks like her as special. Most special.  We’re at a tricky age here, when decisions get made that last awhile.

Kaya ChosenIn the end, it was historical Kaya who won my daughter’s heart. She looked most like her, too, thrilling me greatly.  The contemporary look-like-you dolls, as it turns out, weren’t quite right.

My daughter did a cartwheel in the aisle of the store.

I’m beginning to love this doll.

And I do think avoiding the hugest deal for little girls since… well, I don’t know since when. Since Barbie maybe?  … well, it’s just not a practical strategy.  Not for us. Not anymore.  So…

Here’s Kaya, my daughter’s very best friend. And the newest member of my family.

Kaya with Miss E


11 Responses to “Meet Kaya”

  1. Julie December 28, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    With the glasses on, the doll really does look like her!

    The people who buy *all* the AG dolls for their kids are crazy, but they really are nice dolls, despite the mass marketing machine. They’re well made, and I love the historical fiction books that go along with them. B and I usually trade night reading book chapters to them, but when we’re reading those AG books, we always find ourselves reading quickly through the previous night’s chapter because we legitimately want to know what happened. 🙂

    • rrp69 January 3, 2013 at 11:16 pm #

      Awesome response, Julie – exactly what I needed to hear so soon after I hit “Publish” – thank you. I definitely need to get my hands on the book. Feels like I’m hearing from all the third grade moms how good these books are, but I’ve yet to read more than a few lines!

  2. Kathy December 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm #

    I love your blog on “Meet Kaya”; what a wonderful story you tell and what treasured
    photo’s of adorable Eva and her Ms. Kaya! Love it all but most of all you and your
    beautiful family; my family!
    Mama/Grandma Kathy

    • rrp69 January 3, 2013 at 11:17 pm #

      Thank you, Kathy – I love that you read my blog, and I love that you comment, too! x’s and o’s

  3. wenders December 29, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    I have the Molly doll. I’ve had her for 20 years and she’s my favorite childhood toy. When I chose Molly, she was one of THREE dolls in the American Girl line! Just reading this post reminded me of reading Molly’s stories, and taking care of her. It sounds like your family is having open conversations and your daughter understands what she wants and why. It may be capitalistic – most things have some element of profit involved – although I can’t imagine why someone would need more than one doll. . . Enjoy Kaya!

    • rrp69 January 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

      Thank you, thank you, thank you. It is SO good to hear from people who treasured their dolls and did not go crazy buying up the whole store. I’m so happy to hear that Molly remained special to you. I have a good feeling about Kaya for my daughter – her hair’s been in the hands of three young stylists already, and she’s currently tucked in next to my daughter’s bed, wearing French braids and her contemporary riding outfit. Feels like we made a good choice.

  4. goodfamiliesdo December 29, 2012 at 10:43 pm #

    I love everything about this post! I think you’ve done well by your daughter in both denying and then allowing her to make this big purchase. I hope that she enjoys delving further into historical fiction and the make believe world she is creating around this new friend.

    • rrp69 January 3, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

      Thank you – I hope she continues to enjoy the historical fiction, too! And I really appreciate your support. No parenting decision (or writing about it) is easy, but this one felt especially thorny to me.

  5. debweeks January 2, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    I’m one of those moms who has continued to say, “We’re not getting started on the AGD thing.” However, I’m also a homeschool mom and completely disregarded the fact that there is an educational aspect to these dolls. Thanks for pointing that out! LOL!!! So instead I’ll now say, “We’re not getting started on the AGD thing right now.” I’ll let my girls decide if one day they want to go pick one out and we’ll talk about it then 🙂

    And by-the-way, I really like your blog a lot!!!!

    • rrp69 January 3, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

      Thank you 🙂 Happy to hear from you, and happy to hear this account of our thorny decision gave you pause. Take care!


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