Maya and I have a pretty relaxed relationship. That’s not to say I spoil her (well, ok, it’s kind of hard to NOT spoil an only but I claim that I’m a victim of circumstance!). It’s more that I’m brutally honest with her. In turn, she’s brutally honest with me. If I’m being a crabby wretch, she’ll call me on it. If she’s inching closer to that big patch of thin ice, I let her know. At times we fight like cats and dogs. Most of the time, though, we’re attached at the hip and enjoy our honest relationship. I feel it every night when our good nights consist of “Kissies, huggies, kissies, huggies, hug Calvin the stuffed Chameleon, say goodnight to the fish, kissies, huggies, and one more kissie.” So what does all this have to do with Disney and dolls?
She’s bugged me for years to get her an American Girl doll. You know, the cute dolls you can get that kind of look like your kid? The ones that also wipe out your bank account. Target has their own version that, frankly, is just as good for a much lower cost. She has two of those dolls plus a closet, a bunk bed, and a pony for them. However because they aren’t the REAL thing, she doesn’t play with them as much. At least that’s her reasoning. The other day we were talking about what she wanted for her upcoming birthday:
Me: What do you think you want for your birthday?
Maya: I don’t know. Maybe I can finally get an American Girl doll.
Me: You hardly play with the ones I got you that are just like it.
Maya: Yes, but they aren’t REAL American Girl dolls.
Me: Maya, you hardly play with dolls to begin with. Why spend $100 on a doll you might not play with?
Maya: Well [insert family member] said we spend all kinds of money going on trips and that we should be able to afford an American Girl doll
Me: It’s not about the money, Maya. It’s about what you get out of it. For the same cost as an American Girl doll and all the stuff you’d want to get in addition to the doll I could buy you a ticket into Disney.
Maya: Wait, you mean for the same cost as a doll, I can get into Disney for a whole day?
Me: Exactly. Wouldn’t you rather save that $100 and do something like that?
Maya: Hmm well, Disney does have rides. And they have lots and lots of stuffed animals.
Me: Yes, and you and I both know you treat your stuffies like they’re your children so I think you’d get a lot more out of a trip to Disney and a stuffie than a doll you probably won’t play with.
Maya: Hmm you know. I think you’re right. I probably would.
Now this isn’t to say anything bad about American Girl dolls, but I know Maya. She LOVES her stuffies. I mean really, really LOVES her stuffies. If she had the choice between food and water or a stuffed animal I will bet you money she would take the stuffie. She would also take the day at Disney because she LOVES Disney. Granted a trip to Disney is a lot more than the cost of an American Girl doll in the end BUT it’s something we can all look back on and remember. A trip to Disney won’t be sitting in a corner collecting dust 5 years from now. Perhaps it’s harsh of me to not get her the doll. Afterall, we can afford it. But it’s not just about affording it to me. It’s what you get out of the money. I know that $100 used for a trip is going to be a lot more meaningful down the road than a doll. (However, I also know that $100 spent on a stuffed animal will probably bring a lifetime of joy as well ).
In the end, it’s about making her think about the value versus the cost. For us, there is greater value in travel than in things. Material belongings don’t fill any voids. In fact, if you ever watch the show Hoarders you quickly learn they can actually create voids. Experiences, though, last a life time. I think once you really become a traveler you condition yourself to think that way. Do I really need that new pair of shoes or do I want to save this and get/do something interesting on my upcoming trip? It’s all about choices. Sometimes I have to choose to be the super uncool mom who won’t buy her kid a fancy toy because I know she’d rather have the stuffie from Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen next month. I’m sure I’ll be called a cranky wretch because of it. You can’t win them all.