Wednesday, November 12, 2014

(non) American Girl Girl ~ JR and the dolls

... JR came into our lives. And with that I knew that one day I will have to swim against the American Girl doll tide. We were prepared. We were not going to spend insane amounts of money on a doll and her accessories, and we were not going to let our daughter adopt the AG herd mentality. We were going to teach her that she did not have to have everything everyone else had, and that just because everyone else owned it, did it, said it, thought it, ate it, drank it, used it, etc. did not mean that it was for her as well. She did not need to forgo her beliefs, change her opinion, disguise her mind, play by other people's rules, make up interests, alter her habits to belong and be accepted. And that lesson was going to incorporate AG dolls.

To circumvent the inevitability of having to purchase an AG doll, Jeff and I invested in another one a couple of years ago on a trip to New York. When JR was still young, and the only child, the family used to trek to New York quite often for weekend getaways. Our trips usually involved the same pit stops of food, drink and entertainment. Of the latter, of course, FAO Schwartz was the  most popular. And it was at FAO and not at the American Girl store that JR, though still unknown to her as of the time of this writing, acquired a similar looking doll to herself: a fair toned brunette with many curls. The doll sits still in her packaging on the shelf in the closet waiting for that special birthday to make an appearance. I think this coming birthday might be it.

Then, I saw the calling. Arlington Public Library was looking for assistance cleaning and grooming their collection of AG dolls. I jumped at the opportunity. I had seen the dolls at the Library before but never thought to check them out for JR to take home. The list always seemed too long and there wasn't one doll that particularly attracted me to bring her into the family. But this was different: by taking these dolls home, not only was I not denying her the chance to interact with the dolls, but I was also providing her with an opportunity to be of service to others. It was a win-win situation.

I emailed the contact person quickly yet hesitantly. How many dolls should I ask for? What was a reasonable request? I thought as I typed out "we are interested in taking home a doll to clean her up." I was certain that my note was going to be the last in the gush of emails that the contact was going to receive and we were going to be out of luck. I didn't have high hopes and so did not mention anything on the matter to JR.

The next day the reply came:
Thank you so much for responding Ranya! We have 68 dolls that need to be cleaned (so if you want to take more than one, we would be thrilled!)

The process would be to:

1) clean the doll's clothing (it has to be dry-cleaned, so I give you a dry-cleaning kit that you throw in your dryer.)
2) Wash the doll's skin with a paste of lukewarm water + baking soda. Just use a soft washcloth.
3) Wipe down the doll's pink carrying kit with a Clorox wipe. (I'll provide the Clorox wipes.)
4) Brush and braid the doll's hair.

How does that sound?

Youth Collections Librarian
Arlington Central Library
1015 North Quincy Street
Arlington, VA 22201

I was surprised. No one else, not even the girl scouts, had expressed any interest in this project and the librarian was running out of ideas on who to reach out to for assistance. And with that, the AG doll cleanup project became mine and Jannah-Rae's. 68 dolls needed a foster home and ours was open to them. The first ten came home that weekend.

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