I am pretty sure that an evening at the American Girl store in Alderwood mall with your wife and daughter was not what you had in mind.
Nevertheless, there you are; trapped in a room full of blonds, brunettes and redheads. You are the dad slumped on the bench next to the doll hospital, and you look pretty defeated.
Don't be discouraged, though, because everyone appreciates you holding those giant red shopping bags while your womenfolk deliberate on which doll petticoat to buy.
The only thing sadder than a dad in the American Girl store is a little brother being dragged along by the arm. At least big brothers put up a fight. Little brothers are brought there under duress and then sternly reminded that "Bitty Baby is not a weapon!"
If you happen to have planned ahead and made reservations at the American Girl bistro, at least you can placate your sons into submission with hot dogs, hamburgers and miniature ice cream cones.
The food they serve is (surprisingly) moderately priced, and the adult choices are quite tasty. The chef does a wonderful job of catering to food allergies, and the servers are extremely well-mannered.
But what really bugs me is that when you sit down at those pink tables, the paper napkin rings in front of you say "American Girl" in big letters and then "Made in China" in fine print at the bottom.
Are you kidding me? They are printing paper napkin rings in China and floating them over here to America in big cargo ships to use at a store that has "American" in the title? Give me a break!
That alone would be enough for me to boycott the whole American Girl enterprise, except I can't, because I have a major confession to make: When I was a tween I was one of the very first American Girl groupies.
I even have a postcard sent to me by American Girl creator Pleasant Rowland after I invited to her to spend the night with me on her next trip to San Diego. Shockingly, she declined.
I methodically saved my entire Pleasant Company collection for more than 15 years. I had Kirsten, Samantha and Felicity, plus all of their original packaging.
But then when I was pregnant with my first child we no longer had room to store anything. So I sold my entire collection for $200, more than it originally cost.
As a new-mom-to-be hyped up on nesting hormones, I did something hideously boring with the money, like pay bills. But I did reserve a small portion of the gains to take myself to the Shane Company.
I'm sure when I give that diamond necklace to my daughter someday, she will be my own American girl gone wild.
Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.blog.com.
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