Leah was born, and somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that meant that Molly was now hers. It was just a question of when to present her with the beloved doll. This was complex, for not only are American Girl dolls expensive, but I wanted to give Molly to Leah when I was sure she would be able to grasp how special she was.
Leah is an exceptional kid. For one, although she is a typical spoiled child who wants every toy she ever lays eyes on, she takes very good care of her things. It is extremely rare for a toy of hers to become broken or lost, and she treasures even the smallest of dollar store tokens. Molly is not only an expensive doll, with many small and equally expensive accessories, but it appears that she is also now pretty irreplaceable as the American Girl company has retired her character. Still, as I began thinking about when to present my doll to Leah, I trusted that Leah could and would take great care of her.
I thought about gifting Molly to Leah as a special token to mark the beginning of kindergarten. To show Leah what a big girl she was and that going to school is a special occasion. I was still worried about the second part, though. Leah has been so focused on things lately that I wasn’t sure if she would really see Molly as something special, or as just another toy in her collection. I put it off indefinitely.
This past Sunday Leah woke up sick. It was just a cold, but she had a fever and she was, well, pitiful. Absolutely pitiful. Her little voice was all scratchy and she was so congested she could barely breathe. She had those sad, sick doe eyes that make mommies around the world heartbroken to see. That morning I had to tell Leah that she could not go for one last swim at Mana’s house before the pool was closed. She took that stoically, but became pretty depressed when Dave told her that she could not jump around and dance in her room to the Frozen soundtrack. She pouted on the couch, looking ever so miserable.
Suddenly, I just knew that it was was the right time. I went into the laundry room and carefully opened the sacred bin that housed Molly and her accessories. I took a deep breath and hid her behind my back as I headed back to the livingroom.
“Leah,” I said, “I know that you feel yucky and are not having a great day. I have someone here who wants to keep you company and cheer you up.”
I produced Molly from behind my back and watched as Leah’s eyes got big.
“This is Molly.” I told her, “She is really, really special to me. So are you, and I know that you are such a good girl and treat your toys so well. Do you think you can take really good care of her for me?”
“I can.” Leah answered very solemnly. I could tell that she totally understood what a momentous occasion this was, even in her cough syrup induced drowsiness.
I grabbed the whole bin and began pulling things out and showing Leah. She was impressed by Molly’s old fashioned wooden school desk, and all of the details like a real miniature text book, and a PBJ sandwich. Seeing her eyes light up reminded me all over again about the wonders of American Girl, and just toys that are special in general.
I am sure we all had that toy growing up, that one you had to have and that brought you so much joy and endless hours of play. I am incredibly lucky that I had the forethought to hold onto mine so that I could pass it all down- the doll, the accessories, the joy, and the memories.
I am also lucky to have a little girl who, at the young age of only five, understands when she sees something special, and understands that I am not just giving her a doll. I am giving her an experience, one that we will both share in together. Thank you, American Girl. It started 17 years ago with a catalog arriving in the mail.