We went to the toy section of the department store; each child lugging a heavy purse full of coins. We had come to spend their allowance. Malli picked up the biggest box of Lego he could find and was shocked to learn that he had only about a fifth of the money needed to buy it. And Akka headed straight for the shelf of Monster High dolls.
They both took ages to decide. I tried to direct Akka’s attention towards the Lego and the arts & crafts stuff and even the little annoying stuffed animals but she kept popping up in front of the Monster High shelf like it had her on a retractable leash. I tried to keep my eyes wide and not react with a scowl when she showed me what she chose. I hate those dolls.
(Hating particular dolls and then enabling my daughter’s enthusiasm for them is nothing new for me – see here.)
Malli finally settled on a small Lego hovercraft and started counting out his coins. I apologized in advance to the cashier for the mountain of change they dumped on the counter.
To be fair, Akka played with that doll all evening and all the next day – long after Malli’s hovercraft was fully assembled and forgotten. And for the moment, it still has its forearms and hands attached. Others like it in the toy bin have been less fortunate.
A few days later I came in to find her watching something on my laptop. One of our saved movies, I supposed. But she looked up at me and said, “I googled Monster High!”
She was watching the horrible dolls in animated form! Several thoughts flooded my brain at once: How do I set up parental filters on my computer? What else pops up on the screen when one googles ‘Monster High’? How do I get her away from it? Why do they have to cross-market everything?
But I let her watch. And she kept turning the screen, wanting to watch it alone. She knew I’d hate it and wanted to enjoy her show without my judgment. I feigned disinterest for a while and then said breezily: “Hmm.. All the girls in that show just seem to care about what they look like and getting the boys’ attention.”
She turned with a scowl. “Mum! I already know about all that!”
“So what do you like about the show?”
“Is it scary, since they’re all monsters?”
“Is it funny?”
“Yeah! Frankie made a gingerbread man and then the gingerbread man took a bite of its own hand and then she said ‘No eating!’ and then the gingerbread man said ‘But I’m so delicious!'” Big grin.
Maybe she’ll turn out ok.
When I was little, visiting my cousins, my aunt once came into the room and switched off the TV when she found us watching The Flinstones. I was mystified. “We’re not allowed to watch it,” my cousin said. I couldn’t think why. What was wrong with the Flintstones? We were allowed to watch all sorts of other cartoons; what was wrong with that one?
A few years later I could see it. Wilma’s catch-phrase is chaaaaarrrrge it!. She is forever trying to get her hands on Fred’s credit card so she can shop till she drops. Wilma and Betty complain about their husbands going out bowling. They are gossipy wives who endure their husbands’ antics. My lawyer aunt who made at least as much money as her husband, hadn’t changed her name, and was inclined to undertake repairs and renovations with her own power tools was having none of it. I get it now. I wouldn’t want my daughter watching that nonsense either. But I watched it. I watched it a lot. And it never occurred to me to identify with Wilma and grow up to attach myself to a burly bowler with a credit card. Instead I grew up to hate Monster High dolls.