Monday, March 21, 2011

American Girl Dolls



American Girl Dolls are a right of passage for most little girls these days. Some families have whole rooms full of dolls, their dresses, and their gear. It is quite an overwhelming enterprise with the ability to buy your doll everything, and I do mean everything, from a wheel chair to a braces kit, to her very own horse with his very own saddle! At Mama Henley's house, American Girl dolls are IT. Our dolls have been the center of birthday parties, they have been to camp, and they've flown as much as our real live children have flown! They have had their nails "painted", had their hair professionally put in an up do, and have sat through the entire service at church. These girls live the life!

We have four girls. After our triplets turned 6, they were able to have their very first American girl doll. DH and I made a conscious decision that our girls would only be allowed to have one doll and that they could only have that doll if they were 6 years of age or older, in hopes that they would be able to take care of their doll. We think the dolls are wonderful, but we decided we wanted their one doll to be very special and we are amazed at how well it has worked. The girls chose their favorite doll and that year the two big girls received Emily Bennett and Rachael ( a just like me doll that D named after her soon-to-be-aunt) for their main Christmas gift. These dolls have delighted these girls ever since! The triplets will soon be 10 (I can't believe it!), and they love their dolls as much today as they did three years ago! Some of you may think it is silly for a 10 year old to play with dolls, but I love that our girls still enjoy their American girl dolls and take great care to dress them and play with them whenever possible. At 9 1/2, they each had one thing they really wanted for their doll for Christmas.


I believe that letting your daughter have one doll allows her to not be overwhelmed by having too many dolls to love. Having an abundance of the dolls seems to often (not always) make them less special. Our girls really treasure their dolls. Of course having a sister just 2 years younger created a problem. The Bug really wanted to be like her big sisters. She was 4 when they received their doll. We did not feel she was old enough to really care for the doll. Therefore, we bought her the mock American girl doll from Target. She loved dressing her and playing with her. However, the hair was cheap and became one big knot. She passed for 2 years, but she was not the real thing. A year and a half ago the Bug turned 6. We surprised her with a trip to the Atlanta store where she chose Kit as her birthday gift from her Mimi. Kit has been a delightful addition to our home and the Bug had a Kit themed party for her 7th birthday last summer. DH and I love to see our girls interact with each other and their dolls. As a matter of fact, Kit has Ray Ray and Emily Bennett spending the night in her room tonight!


The dolls are great fun. Yes, the store is considered cheesy and over-the-top by some. The NYC store is 3 stories and can be overwhelming. Nonetheless, it is great for girls to use their gift of nurture to love and care for a doll. We have kept this fascination in tow by not buying them everything they want when the catalog comes to our home. Of course they WANT everything, but we make them choose ONE thing. For Christmas, they each received just ONE American girl accessory or outfit. They pored over the catalog and truly chose carefully. They take care of what they have been given.


Now you know Hurricane lives here too and she was DYING for an "mercanguhldoll". She turned 4 this Christmas, which is not 6. So, she, too, received a mock American girl doll. Hers is a step up from the Target brand as it is a Madame Alexander copy which we found at Costco. She LOVES her doll and jumps right in to playing with her sisters. In two years, we'll have to make a trek to the store to let her choose her forever doll. Since she is my last little girl, we just may have to take all 4 girls to New York to the big store!

25 comments:

mFw said...

I LOVED American Girls and Bitty Baby when I was little!!! I had Bitty Baby until I could take care of a real doll! Then I had Kit and Kailey (doll of the year). My grandparents loved that clothes and accessories were such an easy gift! I've been to the store in Chi town twice and its so fun!!! My little cousin was 18 (yes that's not a typo) American Girls and it does lose the appeal. They live in a very wealthy suburb of chicago so some have been found at garage sales. I love that its a right of passage at 6!!!

Portuguese Prepster said...

I loveee this post! I loved American girl dolls as I kid-I was a proud Samantha honor. I think the idea of one special doll is also fabulous! American girl dolls also fostered a really strong love of history for me that has continued until this day!

kayce hughes said...

wise wise wise!

The Niemeyer Nest said...

I LOVE this too! Evie got the Bitty Baby from AG. Maybe that can last her until she is 6. I agree that the more stuff that we give our kids - the less they care about it!

Bama Girl said...

Wow, all my friends with daughters talk about American Girl Dolls! It has to be so tough, you want to spoil the little ones rotten, but how do you know when it's too much? That would be a struggle for me as a parent. I think God knew I would be lost, and left me without children to save my sanity! :-) XOXO, Have a great week!

bevy said...

My younger niece just turned six and received her very own doll - from Atalnta too! My sister said the company store had a package with the hotel nearby for only $25.00 extra and that it was so worth it.

I am so with you on just one. They can really add up! My Crazy Caroline just LOVES her Samatha doll!

Hines-Sight said...

I have to honestly say that I love what you have done, and the values you have put on your children in this situation. My best friend's daughter has four of these dolls, and she just turned five in February. All bought my grandparents--that five hundred dollars were of dolls. I like the way you have done this. Well done!

EntertainingMom said...

American Girl Dolls are a rite of passage. I do wish they were priced better so as not to exclude some. They are expensive as are their accessories. Luckily great knock-offs can now be found at Target, AC Moore and Michaels.

Rebecca is now outgrowing them. This makes me so sad. She would spend hours and hours with her dolls...

What I loved most was the historic appeal though now they are getting rid of these historic dolls. Year by year another is removed from the shelves. THese dolls came with the best stories and introduced Rebecca to different ways of living during various eras of our country and so many young girls are missing out on that.

I still have a soft spot for Samantha...

Travelbugmom said...

I ONLY have ONE girl and FOLLOWED THE EXACT same rule in my house after witnessing the EXCESS with my nieces. A few weeks ago my daughter I saw my daughter and her friend putting their dolls to bed in the kmart bunk bed I bought and I was overjoyed that at 11 1/2 she still treats that doll special!

PS. Went to the NYC store ONCE and left hubby by entrance - because it was too over the top for him - when we left, my hubby was in a great mood and I questioned him as to why he was grouchy for having to wait so long....HIS QUOTE "WELL, I REALLY ENJOYED THE SIGHTS, BECAUSE IF YOU DIE AND I HAVE TO REMARRY, THIS IS THE PLACE I WILL COME TO FIND MY NEXT WIFE".....all he saw was MONEY!

Southern Living: Preppy Style said...

I can't wait to get an American Doll either, when Lallie turns appropriate age. Of course, it must be blond with green eyes which the catalog doesn't show, I'll have to look online.

Courtney said...

No dolls here (Ha!) but I totally agree that having too much of something seems to make it less special. We are weeding through all the boys cars and trucks at the moment...

Mom on the Run said...

My girls are in their 20's and they each got one for their 8th birthday....and it was after much thought and research as to which one they would get after reading all the books. J1 chose Felicity and J2 has Samantha. J2 and bff played with them well into middle school and they currently reside in a plastic tub under J3's bed (we haven't told him what's in that tub!) for the day when they move into their own homes. I agree that the books and stories were the best part of the American girl phenomenon and I remember being so sad when they finally outgrew the magazine. There's a big problem with giving kids things too early--I've seen this so often. If you treat the 9th grade dance like Prom, then what do they have to look forward to? It's hard to swim against the stream and try to keep things balanced and sane.

carolinagirl said...

Emma got a Bitty baby for Christmas. I didn't know if she would even play with it, but it is BY FAR her favorite baby doll!

Alicia@ eco friendly homemaking said...

This is such a cute post.Who wouldn't love an American Girl Doll? What a Blessing to have instilled such great values in your children!

alanna said...

hi! so the manicure cost me 25 but i guess it varies from place to place but it has been worthwile so far (my mom also loves it because it hasn't chipped yet and she does dishes and cleans all the time)

and i was OBSESSED with the American Girl stuff when i was little and that the dolls are still going strong!

mamamagnolia said...

I agree six is a great age to get a really American Girl Doll. My daughter got one two years ago and wasn't really interested in a doll with hair so she continued to play with Bitty Baby. I hope she will get more interested in Kit now that she is a litle older.

A Town and Country Life said...

I loved the American Girl dolls. We bought all of the books when our daughter was 5, and after we had read every one to her we told her that she could pick one doll.
She picked Samantha, and although she is now 14 she still treasures her.
You are very smart not to buy too many, it makes it special if you just have one or two.
:-)

AmyRLugo said...

I still have my Molly doll. Back in those days there were only 3 to choose from (Kirsten, Samantha and Molly)and they had to be ordered via catalogue. My parents had a similar philosphy to you and your DH.

Andy said...

Your dolls have sat through a church service? I'm dying. Ours are as irreverent as the (live) girls who bring them. Need to work on that.

Jill said...

We do love love love love American Girl dolls around here too! Just last week they had a photo shoot with them...changed outfits, picked backdrops (throw rug from the floor) and used my camera! It was nice to read about another group of girls that love their "friends".

Kat said...

Precious post! I love that your girls only have one each. It really makes them appreciate them more. So sweet!

Donna said...

I still have my daughter's American girl doll...24 years later. She had it too young and never palyed with it much....saving it for a grandaughter??

Sundresses and Smiles said...

we still have my american girl dolls and all their clothes and accessories up in the attic--hopefully someday, my daughter will get to play with them. i was also a huge fan of my bitty baby, elizabeth!

Langley said...

LOVE it! Please give those girls a hug from me! I can't wait to meet their dolls. When my cousin and I were 10 and my sister was 8, our moms took us to Colonial Williamsburg for the American Girls Tea. It was such a special weekend and one of my favorite memories. I'm not sure if they still do it, but wouldn't it be fun for you and all your girls to go! Back then there were only 3 dolls (I had Samantha and my sister had Molly!)

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

Sassy has 4 AG doll. Excessive, I know, but she really does play with them alot & like you said, takes very good care of them. She is very protective of them as well. Baby Girl has a Bitty Baby, which she loves & surprisingly takes very good care of too. Sass has all historical characters & Baby Girl's Bitty Baby is named P.A. We had no clue where that came from. We love the ATL store too, especially the Bistro.