Stop listening to a 9 year old and 7 year old and listen to her gut.
They dolls aren’t played with. Not really. M and C make them dance around a bit now and then, but for the most part, Cecile and Addy are posted up on M’s nightstand and C’s bed, respectively. Sometimes, Hurricane V will come through the room and undress Cecile and Addy, unbraid their hair, and scatter their accessories around before tiring of this destruction and turning her attention to something else.
Cecile and Addy are left looking like the opening scene of Law and Order: SVU. M and C get bent out of shape with V, but just end up just leaving the dolls naked and in disarray. These very expensive dolls that they begged, cajoled, wheeled and promised me anything, anything for if I would buy them, are left naked and splayed out. Even the Velveteen Rabbit got more love that these two.
When I’m straightening up the girls’ rooms, and I see the dolls cast away like so many other Happy Meal inserts, pantless Barbies and broken crayons, I just shake my head. I hear my own mother’s voice in my head, “I’m not buying you another single doll until these dolls have some clothes on!”. I’ve used that line with very little impact; naked Barbies abound in the playroom. When it comes to the American Girl Dolls, though, I’m going to have to stick to my guns. I find myself dressing Cecile and Addy, sitting quietly on the bed, pulling on socks, lacing up shoes, finding the little gloves and matching hats. I take the hair ties from around my own wrist and use it to secure a very neat French braid or Dutch braid that I’ve given the doll. Yes, I’m spending my own time,
playing caring returning these playthings back to some sort of recognizable state.
When M and C discover what I’ve done, it’s never met with any kind of thanks. I think they assume the doll fairy, cousin of the Tooth Fairy or something, flies in and takes care of business. Things continue along as usual, with the dolls standing around until Hurricane V rolls through again. M has said that if they had more accessories for the dolls, like Addy’s ice cream set or Cecile’s canopy bed, as well as more outfits and so forth, they’d play with the dolls all.the.time. Right, let me run on out and get that for you.
The last time V disrobed the dolls, leaving pantaloons and socks in her wake, M and C were more upset than usual. Evidently, the hair on both Addy and Cecile has been literally, bent out of shape. No amount of palm smoothing, brushing with the accessory brush or finger de-tangling was going to get the knots, frizz and general rattiness under control. M implored me to fix Cecile’s hair. In her way of thinking, if I can do her hair, if I can do her sisters’ hair, well, then I can do the doll’s hair, too. “Mom,” she said earnestly, “you’re like a hair wizard”. That’s some high praise right there. But, flattery will only get you so far. Gently, I explained to her that the kind of hair sprouting out from Cecile and Addy’s heads wasn’t going to respond the way her hair did. Not one to be defeated, M suggested I “go on the interwebs and You Tube it!”, it being ways and means on how to restore the hair of their respective dolls to their former glory.
This is where we are in this life. I didn’t have an American Girl Doll growing up, but if I did and her hair got all kinds of kinked out, my mother would have shrugged her shoulders and said something like, “I told you to take care of it,” walking off with an air of “too bad, so sad,” trailing behind her. Fast forward 25 years and my daughters are giving me tips on what to do to solve this problem. And the thing is, they aren’t wrong in their suggestions. A quick visit to Google turned up pages of American Girl Doll fan sites and
It’s not like we haven’t been done this road before. Last year, during spring break, I tried to to get the girls playing with some toys that hadn’t been loved on in a while. I broke out M’s Bitty Baby, an another American Girl family member, but M was decidedly against playing with her since her hair looked like this:
You don’t use doll hair de-tangler on American Girl Dolls. Like ever. If you have a curly hair American Girl Doll, such as the one we have, you should only use water and your fingers to de-tangle and style the hair. Here was my face when I read that last part:
Of course you do.
So, I gave the doll’s hair an epic rinse before breaking out all of my hair implements in order to wrangle it back into some semblance of a style. And of course, I was trying to do this as covertly as possible lest M wander through the kitchen and spy what I’ve done to her doll, thereby rendering it persona non grata in her purview. About half a dozen hair balls later, I ended up with this:
Not great, but not bad. And here we are about a year later with more dolls in need of hair care. So knowing what not to do, I am going to jump in to figure out what I should do for this particular type of hair. More googling confirms that finger detangling is the way to go to restore hair like Cecile’s. As for Addy’s, the recommendations include Downy Dunk, finger detangling combined with toothbrush styling, or just straight-up washing with baby shampoo. The more links I clicked, the more information spooled out. The more information that spooled out, the more it was beginning to look like Addy and Cecile were going to be added to the wash day line-up, right beside M, C, and V. “Washing and styling” two more heads? To you sir, I say no, no, and again no.
The biggest take away in this entire exercise has been that I would rather fill out paperwork and send them both to the American Girl Doll hospital for a “wellness check” and “hair styling” (i.e. swap out the old head for a new one), rather than spend a Sunday afternoon finger styling synthetic hair on a doll that I spend more time interacting with than it’s nominal owners.
Yes, there is a teachable moment here. Yes, I will more than likely set up both M and C with the various tools needed to transform our kitchen into a doll sized hair salon. And once we have successfully coiffed Cecile and Addy, they’ll be returned to their respective perches for V to have at when none of us expect it. And I will continue to dress them, match their socks and shoes, and keep them as close to pristine as possible. It would seem I’ve gotten my very own — well, two — American Girl Doll, afterall. Better late than never, I suppose.