After our trip to the American Girl store in New York, Miss O’s obsession with American Girl dolls grew rapidly. When she spotted an American Girl catalog in the mail, she poured over it, circling everything she wanted, which was basically the entire catalog. I have to admit, after leafing through it myself, their stuff is still really cute. I also discovered they have a launch event at their stores when they release a new Girl of the Year doll on New Year’s Day. We didn’t have anything planned that day, so I figured why not check it out? It would be a great way to gauge her interest and see what our local store had to offer in preparation for the birthday experience I hoped to give her.
Miss O had proven she could take good care of her toys, and demonstrated her ability to take excellent care of her Our Generation dolls from Target. Miss O had two dolls now, one a hand-me-down from her cousins, called Valentine, and one she proudly bought with some birthday money, called Arlee. I had no intention of replacing either doll, and Miss O gave no indication she would abandon them either. This was purely motivated by me buying in to what had become another rite of passage for my daughter. She didn’t need another doll and the cost difference between one from Target and one from American Girl is considerable.
I had also decided that passing on my Kirsten doll and accessories was not something I was ready for. I’d hang on to her a bit longer, investigate the collector’s market, and decide what I wanted to do after the emotions of Miss O’s store experience had passed. I realized that I wanted to do something fun and spoil my daughter a bit. I also simply couldn’t bear the thought of handing a doll worth that much money to a young child, no matter how well they cared for their toys.
Through another catalog, Miss O discovered the American Girl store will pierce your doll’s ears and was 100% sold. She desperately wanted to pierce Arlee’s ears and was heartbroken when I explained to her the store will only do their own dolls. This led to what I thought would be an awkward discussion about how her dolls weren’t really American Girl dolls no matter how often she referred to them as such. To my delight, Miss O could care less that they weren’t “real” American Girl dolls and continues to extend this title to both of them. “My American Girl doll, Arlee, is going to a sleepover tonight.” “Have a great time, Arlee!” We found some stick-on earrings on a random visit to Claire’s, a ridiculously overstimulating jewelry store in the mall aimed at tweens and wanna-be-big-girl-almost-seven-year-olds. They were fine for a few days, but not exactly the real deal.
Through Christmas, it became extremely hard to wait. I wanted to surprise Miss O so badly, but the wait was absolutely killing me, even more so than when we kept our first Disney World trip a surprise. At least with that trip, I had projects to keep me occupied during my wait. Miss O’s interest was stronger than ever and she loved adding all the doll accessories I got at the Target Black Friday sale to her collection. Her Grandy also got her a few outfits and accessories from the American Girl catalog, which she absolutely adored.
Hubs and I felt justified in our decision to do the American Girl store experience for her next birthday to reward her patience and care, so I immediately started figuring out how I would pay for what I knew would not be an inexpensive experience.
When New Year’s Day rolled around, we packed up Miss O for a surprise adventure and went to go check out the Boston American Girl store. The parking lot was much less packed than I expected, but still busy for a holiday morning only one hour past opening. The location was much smaller than the New York store, but somehow more welcoming. The shelves were fully stocked and the displays begged you to play with them (and you can!). The crowds were lower than I expected, and we learned that we missed the insanity by about an hour. There was a small table with store staff handing out a darling doll-sized apron and a craft kit that Miss O lost her mind over. Dolls and crafts?! Heaven.
The new doll, called Blaire, was darling and apparently, she helps plan events on her family’s farm. I couldn’t help laughing at how she was a perfect blend of my sister-in-law and me, with me being the planner and my sister-in-law as the farm girl. We spent about an hour and a half exploring every inch of the store.
I made sure to check out the upstairs café to get a feeling for the size and general vibe of the place. I decided it was definitely worth doing at least once. We also lingered near the doll salon so I could see how busy it gets and whether Miss O had any strong reaction to wanting to do it. At the time, she desperately wanted a “Truly Me” doll, which do not have a historical background or pre-determined “story” like the other dolls do. The idea of these dolls is that you can pick one that looks most like you. We found a doll that is pretty darn close to matching Miss O’s skin tone, eye color and hair color, though she was disappointed it had straight hair, not ringlets like hers. I figured maybe the doll salon could do something about that and made a mental note to investigate that further another time.
It was a worthwhile trip, for the recon, but also because I know Miss O and I enjoyed ourselves, even if a new doll didn’t come home with us. We did allow Miss O to pick one small accessory as a special treat. I was a bit worried she’d have a hard time making such a big choice, but it didn’t take her long to choose something from Blaire’s new collection. She settled on a small box containing a shopping tote with flowers, a clipboard with event planning “checklists” and tablet with changeable card “screens.” DARLING! Also, definitely me.
I was sure this experience was something Miss O would enjoy and wasn’t just a passing phase. I knew I’d enjoy it, too, and it’s always fun to find something she and I can do together. Now my only concerns were whether I could I hold out until July for her birthday and whether she’d still care about the doll by then.