I bought the girls a present today. It was meant to be a statement of how much I love them since it is the antithesis of everything I want my children to aspire to and they know I loath them. However this is what they have been coveting for months so I decided to surprise them with these:
This really isn’t worthy of comment in itself. But what is interesting to me is the girls’ reactions to the dolls. Firstly they were both very happy. So that’s great and I’m pleased I bought them the revolting pink plastic monstrosities.
Bunny got out any other dolls of a similar size and type and lined them all up in a row. As she has one more doll than Kitten she did some loud counting every now and again to hammer that message home for her big sister. She collected all the dolls’ accessories and put them in a row too. She plaited all their hair so they looked the same and swapped clothes round then put them all back again repeatedly. Repetitive play but she was content in her own little world and Bunny would have carried on like this for hours.
Kitten felt anxious about her doll. She has said ‘I wish…’ many times since I gave her the doll. I wish I had more bobbles…had more dolls…the shoes were a different colour. She has asked her little sister Is my doll prettier than yours? Are you jealous of my doll? Do you wish you had my doll? For Kitten life is a battle to be won. My girl constantly feels she is not good enough. She doesn’t deserve nice toys, or clothes or love. She had 4 years to learn this before she came to live with me. The anxiety about this permeates everything she does. So she is trying to reassure herself that her doll is the best; really she is trying to reassure herself that she is the best while she has a pit in her stomach that tells her that whatever she says and does she will never be good enough. Perhaps also the fact I had bought her something she knows I don’t like scared her a bit. Being loved that much is very scary to Kitten!
Kitten quickly dysregulated. The doll play became very physical and she drew her little sister into this, skilfully trying to control everything Bunny said and did. Dolls have been slammed into the floor and into the furniture and into each other. Bunny bought in to the battle for control. If Bunny has an idea fixed in her head she finds it hard to swerve from it. If pushed too far she will meltdown on an epic scale. And so we have had dysregulated chaos from both girls.
I shouldn’t have let it get this far. I usually step in to prevent things escalating. So I will attempt to re-establish calm for Bunny and Kitten as they are unable to self calm. They’ve had bananas and warm milk for a snack. I’ve brought their Lego out and they’re playing separately. Bunny has her dummy in and is doing a lot of rocking as she plays. Kitten has her weighted lappad on her knee and is sighing a lot! We have something soothing to listen to while we play. This will be a work in progress till bedtime and beyond. Kitten is VERY angry. Bunny is shell shocked.
Do I regret buying the offending pink items? No not at all. I hope and pray that Kitten and Bunny will look at their Barbies sometimes and remember how much their mummy loves them.
Your kitten sounds very much like my acorn (boy, aged 9, Tigger on speed). I can so relate to life being a battle to be won and that reaching out for something – anything – to fill the hole in the soul. Acorn finds it incredibly hard to accept presents and very often breaks the toys he loves best that were given by the people he loves most.
You sound such a loving parent. I’m really enjoying reading your blog. Thank you.
Oh crikey for a moment I could have believed you were writing about my pair (except for the fact they are boys, of course). It is so painful to see our children in such distress but you are doing a fantastic job and you are a wonderful mother xx
Great post and really descriptive of how things can go for our children even with the “good stuff” I bet even though it was tough in some ways for them I bet they will never forget the day they got the Barbies and the memories will be happy and full of love x
My son also loved Barbies for a time, he’s loved many things over the years, again trying to plug the emotional void with “characters”. I’m not sure we bought him any new ones but, we managed a couple from the charity shop and donated from friends. All the dolls were soon stripped of their pretty dresses, fighting each other and soon missing legs, arms and heads. I’ve learnt not to be precious about toys because so many get broken, anything really special we keep in a safe place and have monitored play with.
You are such a perceptive and understanding parent, it shines through in your witting.I’m not sure I understood as much with our Barbie situation. I think, as Amanda says, the memory of receiving these Barbies will, I’m sure, be the one that remains. At 9 and 10 my two can play much more considerately with their belongings now. With your support I’m sure your girls will get there too.
Thanks for sharing on #WASO