Bamboozled into Barbies
Friday, March 21, 2014
As a child I was never much one for dolls. Animals appealed to me more. Even dinosaurs. I had a farm set, my joy and delight - Mom had spent hours assembling the metal barn, inserting tab A into slot C, and the plastic animals were delightfully realistic, unlike modern Fisher-Price creatures, which, though more brightly colored and jointed, would not have appealed to me over the drab brown accuracy of specific breeds - a shorthorn bull, a Shropshire sheep...Stuffed animals also had more appeal. I still have the cat, Chesterfield, my mother had made for me from a pattern when I was about 10, and a pre-Disney Winnie the Pooh. Once I did ask about and receive a baby doll, but had it been a real child it would have been taken by CPS for my neglect. No...Quadrupeds for ME.
So now I babysit a couple afternoons a week. And my 5-year-old charge has Barbies. The first few times I was with her, she was content to watch PBS when she got home - Wild Kratts appealed even to ME because it deals with wildlife. But as she's grown accustomed to me, and I'm rather easy going, I engaged in her play - firs twith her "Squinky's" (SOMETHING like that) - because they were miniscule animals. She played with a tiny pink armadillo, and I with a blue-gray elephant with a long shock of hair. But yesterday - she brought out Barbies. And for two hours, I played with her. My characters were named Rapunzel and Ken - at first. Then she traded those in for others, and gave me a blonde whose name she told me was indeed Barbie, and I maintained my Ken.
We changed their clothes, we prepared invisible food, we went camping, we went on picnics, and to dances. Rapunzel and Ken danced to my humming of The King and I's "Shall We Dance (1-2-3)" and a hummed Tango, and My Fair Lady's "I Could Have Danced All Night" - while my charge said gravely, "WE dance the REGULAR way."
Of course HER Barbie - although she didn't take that particular name, and she didn't really call her by any particular name - her people were "husband" and "wife" - won the Ballet contest, and the My Little Pony Jumping Contest, and was the best dressed and most-to-be-admired (and envied). I went along, my characters showering her with accolades. I guess because I WAS so agreeable, she enjoyed playing with me.
I think today I'll bring the book from my school's book club, and explain, "I have to read this for work." Maybe I can escape Barbie!