Most of us know who that boy is and all about his adventures at a school we can’t decide if we’d actually want to go to. It’s so ingrained in our collective culture by now that even if you haven’t been sorted into a house, you know something about J.K. Rowling’s marvelous world of wizards and magical creatures. It’s a powerful responsibility to usher another generation into Harry’s world. Miss O was a little young for Hogwarts when she was first introduced to Harry Potter, but she dove in deep and hasn’t looked back yet.
Here at the Jackpot, we’re used to getting this close to something, only to have it ripped away just as our fingers are about to touch it. When Miss O fell in love with American Girl dolls, I wanted her to have the whole American Girl store experience, complete with Bistro visit, doll salon trip and everything. We’ve had a run of good luck lately, mostly due to intense planning and severe financial discipline, so I felt confident I could lavish something ridiculous on my daughter for her birthday. Fortunately, we live a short drive from the only American Girl store in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, shortly after we decided Miss O would get a new doll for her seventh birthday, we found out that store would close in three short weeks, a full five months shy of Miss O’s birthday.
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.
One of the things I’ve been looking forward to most as a parent is the doll phase. When I was a kid waaaaay back in the 80s, the Pleasant Company was just getting started with the most exquisite dolls I’d ever seen. The catalog was maybe ten pages long at that time and I think there were only four dolls, all representing historical time periods, and I HAD to have one. Now that my daughter was entering her doll phase, I wondered if my daughter would love them as much as I did.
The moment I knew I was pregnant, I knew I would love our child no matter what. I would do anything to protect her and I would help her anyway I could. When my perfect baby girl was finally born and I held her in my arms, I was relieved that her birth was without incident. At her first check-up, she was pronounced “perfectly healthy” and I finally let out the breath I didn’t realize I was holding. We knew how lucky we were then and we still know it. Now we face something I wasn’t prepared for, navigating my own feelings about mental health, sensory issues and having a child who may have “special needs.”
One of the greatest gifts my parents were able to give me is world travel. By the time I was ten, I had been to England, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Austria, France, Denmark, and Switzerland. I visited Ireland at 16 and again at 18. Seeing other countries not only broadened my understanding of the world, it made me curious about other countries and their culture. It helped me see that my view is not the only view. Now I’m thrilled to have an opportunity to give that same experience to Miss O this summer when we travel to France and England.
Our final park day of our first family trip to Disney World came all too quickly. Miss O had one more day to finish her mission to collect all the Disney Princess autographs. We had amazing success in Animal Kingdom, our first day at the Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. Even though Hollywood Studios wasn’t a hit, we still met a few friends there, too. When we started, I was hoping Miss O would get one or two, but wouldn’t push her if she didn’t want to. Now we were determined to meet our final Princesses and maybe find a few extra friends. After four long, fun-packed days, I hoped we’d all make it long enough to see it through.