Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Mysterious Fate of Barbie's Head

I was a little girl once. I dreamed in pink and purple. I adored fairy tales, Ramona and Beezus and later on, Judy Blume. I wore Easter bonnets and carried straw purses with colorful plastic flowers attached. I loved dress-up dolls and kittens; had a massive sticker collection that kept our local Hallmark in business; and drew an impressive mural on my bedroom wall of a unicorn under a rainbow.

I embraced being a girl.

But my birth order wedged me between four brothers, all of us close in age; a cosmic move that significantly altered my rose colored visions of sugar and spice. I watched my pretty tea set with the delicate hand painted rosebuds become a set of twelve miniature Frisbees soaring across the front yard towards two “goalposts” consisting of one fragile and confused teapot and my brave Breyer Palomino named Randi, with an “i”. I would walk unsuspectingly into the family room only to look up in horror as the blur of a random brother flew off the back of the couch and pinned me to the carpet in a move a’ la Chief Jay Strongbow. My beloved brothers would hide behind the shower curtain and pop out just as I was about to sit down. They spray painted Barbie’s dream house gunmetal gray and, somehow, Barbie' and Skipper’s heads ended up on GI Joe' and Ken’s bodies.

Living in the land of lads could be pretty cool, too. I collected baby hog-nosed snakes and fuzzy caterpillars. I could give a mean Indian Burn and was not afraid to stand nose-to-nose with any boy and demand my way. I got dirty, muddy, and explored woods for treasures and new trees to climb. I fearlessly shimmied into creepy crawlspaces in search of baby animals. I learned the vital life skill of launching loud and successful bids to support my God-given rights, like watching Little House on the Prairie instead of Monday Night Football on the small black-and-white TV in the study.

I embraced being a girl in a house full of boys.

I always envisioned having a daughter someday. We’d enjoy tea parties with porcelain dishes that weren’t glued back together again; and eat lemon squares with powdered sugar. We’d do crafts on the dining room table while wearing matching headbands and raspberry nail polish. We’d shop for sparkly pink things and she’d sleep under a white, frothy canopy in a bedroom draped in toile. She’d be confident when walking into rooms and secure enough that she wouldn’t have to scan the shower every time she entered a bathroom. She’d devour books by the dozen on the quaint bay window cushion covered in chintz. She’d be whatever she wanted to be in life and she’d be happy.

And she’d look just like me.

When the time came for babies, I was blessed with not one, but two, beautiful boys. I was gifted with twin sons who make me laugh. They’re teenagers now and do all the loud, wild and crazy things that boys do. They breathe sports, eat everything and are most of the time covered in dirt and mischief. They achieve goals and know they can be whatever they choose to be. They are happy.

And they both look exactly like their Dad.

Note: As I was writing this I recalled some of my favorite toys: Do you remember the Lemon Twist, Fashion Plates, the Little Wizard, and that make-your-own-make-up kit called Fresh ‘N Fancy? I loved those.