This parenting tip is for every dismayed dad (and some moms) who discover that the new doll with "gorgeous long hair" you bought for your pleading daughter has been shorn in stylist-gone-mad fashion.
My tip? Don't be upset. Don't scream to your spouse in the next room, "I can't believe this; she butchered her new Barbie!"(or fill-in the glorious hair-doll-of-the-month here). And please, don't give your kid a lecture about how she has ruined her beloved doll.
You might be missing the real story.
Here's what I think. If there were a way to assemble in one place every doll with signature tresses ever loved by a little girl, we would see the pattern: generously scattered among the perfectly coiffed dolls, there would be a critical mass of dolls sporting every scissors-gone-crazy look imaginable: crooked bobs, misguided pageboys, uneven crewcuts, and lopsided bouffants. Many dolls would be down to hair stumps and stubble.
You may ask "why -- when our little girl pined for this doll precisely for her beautiful hair -- -- would this helter-skelter hair scene result?" I would answer "because she loves her doll so much."
The story of my beloved Crissy doll may help illustrate this theory.
The year was 1969. I was 10 and, oddly enough, had yet to own a Barbie doll (I played with the neighbor's Barbie, Midge and Skipper dolls whenever I could.) No matter -- television ads from the Ideal Toy Company advertising the new "Crissy doll" held me in their spell.
To many little girls of the day, Crissy was eighteen inches of auburn-haired, brown-eyed, orange mini-dress beauty. And best of all, her hair grew! You pushed a button on her belly and her shoulder-length ponytail could be pulled to her waist, right past to her ankles. Turning a knob in her back would reset the hair to the shortest position. It was one of the earliest hair-magic dolls of its day.
Never had I begged for a toy like I begged for Crissy. My parents, facing lean times, wavered at the cost. But then, Crissy appeared Christmas morning. I was in doll-heaven.
Day and night I brushed and braided, adorning her hair with ribbons. Within a week, I washed her hair. Mom had warned me not to if I wanted her hair to stay silky. She was right, of course. Crissy's hair now felt like straw, but I didn't care.
Another week passed, and then I heard it: the siren call. Crissy was telling me with those big brown eyes and wildly split ends: "it's time - please, give me a beautiful hair cut." I lovingly obliged.
My sense is that the majority of little girls do not set out to butcher their beloved doll's hair. Sure, some may share traits of the Sid character in Toy Story, out for sadistic styling pleasure. But for most of us, the "new haircut" is attempted with the same love and focus as the combing and braiding. It's just that we're so hopelessly inept with those scissors.
I imagine most little girls, like me, then stare at their beloved doll post-haircut and fight tears. We may be naive stylists, but we aren't blind. We know something magical about our doll has gone away, at our very hands.
Me? I began with a small snip here, another one there. But then it happened: I cut off the entire length of my Crissy's gorgeous signature ponytail. And then I held it in my hands like a beloved pet in its dying hours. In a panic, I continued whacking at Crissy's bangs, thinking I could somehow make it all better. As you might guess, it got worse. Crissy looked like she was suffering the side effects of some very strong medication.
I also remember the parental fallout. Mom yelled and expressed disappointment in me. Dad offered a lecture about kids who mistreat toys not getting new ones in the future. In the end, I remember not caring too much. I still had my favorite toy: my beautiful Crissy doll with the crazy hair that would never grow back.
Did you ever radically "modify" a beloved toy in your youth? Do you recall what you were thinking at the time?
Diana Dull Akers is a Shine Parenting Guru, mom and sociologist who would secretly love to have a full head of lush Crissy-hair.