The Day Sierra and Mommy Played Together

This title was dictated to me from a higher authority, wielding plastic, molded dolls rather menacingly.

Today was the day I woke with a headache, and my daughter woke with a vengeance. She stalked me around the house, demanding to play Barbies. I pleaded a ‘hurt in my head’, and indicated the library books. Sierra wants her babysitter to come over to play with her. Said babysitter has already been here this weekend. “Taylor can come next week, honey.”

“I want Taylor. She plays Barbies with me.”

I resist the impulse to describe, in painstaking detail, the 14 hours of labor it took to put her on this Earth. I calmly take two more ibuprofen.

But Sierra wants me to ride bikes with her. We do that for awhile. She falls and injures her elbow. Her understandable objection to the sly machinations of gravity seem particularly loud. She wants me to make Macaroni and Cheese. To fix some lemonade. To sew up her kitty. And of course, she still wants me to play Barbies.

I think I put up a good, parental effort; but I could not, would not play Barbies. “Tomorrow, sweetie.” Those vacuous, little Mattel faces demanding voice and personality. Could I make the Barbie’s whisper for the duration of the game? Unlikely. Screams and dramatic shows of maniacal laughter and sobbing, these antics characterize our dolly playing games. “No Barbies, Sierra. Head. Hurts.” She gives me a disappointed look, eerily reminiscent of my mother.

The demands continue. I enlist SpongeBob, and the parental veil of busyness, curling on the bed between her imperious stints to wedge my head between a stack of pillows. She follows me into my cave and plays some music, very loud. I order her to exercise the art of self-entertainment. She entertains the dog into a howling duet. Weakly, I suggest she practice piano, while I flip through brochures of boarding schools. Forty-four rounds of ‘Heart and Soul’ later, I know I am beat. I drag my feet into the room, bowing to the victor.

And to her side-kick who is 12 inches tall, and a ludicrous shape.

“Okay, Barbies.”

Is it an accident, do you suppose, that a smart, adorable, self-sufficient child should transform into an aggressive tower of neediness the very day her darling mum would just need to hide in a dark, empty closet? But there are no accidents, just God’s odd sense of humor. I can hear a deep chuckle rumbling under the plates of the earth as I wrap my hand around a small blonde figure and try not to beat its hollow head against the wall. We are God’s children, it is written. But I wonder if we aren’t just a big game of Barbies.

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13 thoughts on “The Day Sierra and Mommy Played Together

  1. The closest I’ve come to raising kids was nannying a girl and boy for three or four nights every week a few years back while the mother worked. They were great kids, but I still took from that experience an abiding awe for how demanding they could be. Even just nannying kids is an intense job. I don’t know how parents do it.

  2. “She gives me a disappointed look, eerily reminiscent of my mother ” – whoa, now there’s a story! I know how you feel; I am happy to do most things with my kids but somehow Barbie leaves me cold.

  3. Paul- I read the poem you wrote for the girl in your charge. That was pretty neat. I taught Montessori preschool for a couple years, and it really made me believe there must be something that influences people collectively, be it bio-rhythmic responses to the atmosphere, or I don’t know what. Because it never seemed like just one kid at a time, they would all be incredibly needy at times, and other times the whole class would seem calm and balanced.

    It never rains but it pours.

    Oscarandre- Thank you. I don’t know what it is about that darn blue-eyed, blonde haired amazon. I wanted barbie when I was little, and now though I tried to give her more anatomically realistic choices, it was Barbie she wanted. So barbie she got. I’m not entirely sure I didn’t buy the first ones so I could play with her, too.

  4. On doing a small bit of introspection, I’ve realized that I’m not as against Barbies as I think I am. That is, I think I’m strongly against them but I rarely think about them so I just have a mild thing against them.

    One time I went to see some artwork. The artwork was a whole bunch of Barbie dioramas. All of them were bondage scenes. That rather amused me.

  5. But isn’t that the point of children and pets? (Not the only point for sure). I know that however sick or depressed or lazy I get, I still have to take care of some other living beings. And that actually gets you out of those bad places a bit or tends to limit them.

    Thankfully my daughter had a very short barbie phase and I was never enlisted in any of their crazy pink games.

  6. I’d give thanks for having had sons, but even though neither of them played with Barbie dolls (that I know of), they had their own way of coming up with things to do on days I wanted to curl up and die.

    Usually it involved pirating, a safari or other games with play guns and loud noises if the reason for wanting to curl up and die was a headache.

    I think you’re right. Maybe we ARE a big game of Barbies.

  7. Bongo- I’ll hafta 2nd stevo, there’s an image I won’t soon shake from my cerebrum: Barbie bondage.

    aos- I could argue that, I think, but I understand what you mean. I have read that a key point in the healing process for recovering addicts and suicidally depressed people is either engaging them in work where they take care of others, or giving them progressive stewardship over a living thing. Like first a plant, then goldfish, then maybe a kitten. Taking care of another does seem remarkably effective for putting one’s troubles in perspective.

    Robin- I know that must have grated just like the Barbie’s do on me after awhile, but right at this moment, gosh that sounds fun! I want to be a pirate. Go on safaris. …maybe not so much the guns. Maybe we could branch out a bit from Miss Mattel.

  8. Over the weekend my daughter had one of her friends over. The two girls played with Barbies almost nonstop for 24 hours straight. I did have to tell them to stop to go to bed and when we had to take her home. Last night as I was putting my daughter to bed she told me how after she’s had a friend over playing Barbies isn’t as fun by herself anymore. I told her that’s true. Then I thought about how us adults even realize that playing with ourselves isn’t as fun as playing with someone else after having the ability to play with someone else.

  9. We are a superior being’s Barbies, in the giant bondage diorama (thanks for the image Bongo) called life.

    Well, you can be a Barbie, I’ll be G. I. Joe, with the kung fu grip.

  10. bibliomom- this blogging thing, same thing, too. This was just supposed to be a place to talk about stuff I wanted, and maybe link to some articles, but after awhile the reading and community part made it seem a lot more interesting. Learning about people in the ongoing context of daily thoughts is half the fun of this world.

    stevo- lol. Ok, you have the kung-fu grip. Interesting to read that, cus I used to go into the bathroom as a kid to discover my brother had done some twisted things with my Barbie’s and his G.I. Joes. The kinds of things Bongo would have viewed in an art-gallery diorama. …Bryan was uh, precocious, I guess.

  11. I can relate to your issue, I have a similar one, although at this point Barbie is not at the center, My Little Pony is. I have yet to arrive at a logical conclusion as to why a Pony would wear glasses and a necklace and bracelet and sling-back pump hoofs but who am I to question. I just play along and end up saying things like, ” Oh, Pinkie Pie looks nice today, Is she going to the pony ball at the pony castle with Minty and Rainbow Dash”. Things I never in a million years could have imagined coming out of my mouth.

  12. my girl cousin used to make me play barbies with her all the time, but it was good practice for later. because, so did my next door neighbor that was an older girl. you’d think i am scard from the experience. i just learned that barbies liked to lay on top of each other all the time. and go “ohhhh” and “ahhhhh”, not a difficult game to be hanging out with girls for. just pick a barbie? and talk barbie? wow, that is too easy.

    but anyway, i don’t know if this answers your question, but i see a lot of ‘barbies’ walking this world every day.

  13. Mark- That was awesome. I used up my lol quota today, but I did lol. I remember those ponies. They’ve made something of a comeback, like the care-bears. Seems like the fruitier a toy is, the more likely it will enjoy a long run. Girl modelled after a blow-up doll? Best seller. Skittle colored teddy bears? I’ll take two. How bout baby dolls born from cabbages? Solid freakin’ gold.

    somethingfishy- I’m . um. Hm. Your cousin sounds precocious too. You’ve shed some light on the subject though, I guess I prefer screaming and theatrics to having to deal with finding my daughter lay her dolls on top of each other and go “ohhhh” “ahhhh”.

    Well. Barbie turned out to be a rich, pathos-laden subject. What should I talk about now? I’m torn between Teletubbies and Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

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