It was so much easier with Polly Pocket. I never did like that girl.
Her clothes were plastic for one thing. And she was forever losing her shoes in the couch cushions, under airplane seats or in the crack of the car seats. They were the size of rice grains.
"Leave the shoes at home," I told my daughter whenever she wanted to bring Polly along. "I am not searching for those shoes." I was always searching for those shoes.
When her interest in the pocket dolls began to wane, I waited about five minutes before swooping in on plastic Polly and her microscopic accessories. Whenever I found a tiny pink shoe after that, I vacuumed it up without remorse.
But I don't let everything go so easily.
This week we repainted her sunny bedroom a shade of moody blue and chocolate. We emptied closets and toy bins. We filled laundry baskets with stuff to give away. By the time I got to the chest filled with High School Musical song lyrics and fashion dolls, I was searching for something to save, some little part of the girl who had lived in the yellow room with the butterflies on the walls.
Her replacement will be a sixth grader in two weeks and is ready to part with it all; the Barbies, the Bratz, the long-legged fairies. Not me. I am searching for an addition to the collection of artifacts I keep scattered around my desk, which would seem silly and sentimental if not for the fact that everyone keeps a few toys on their desks, right?
I have a Lego car, a couple of little dinosaurs, a ceramic turtle and a magnetic skateboarding dude. And, okay, so there are a couple of stuffed animals, a few items of baby clothes, a pair of secret agent glasses and some baby teeth. Also, a baby blanket, a Matchbox car and a little round table from the knight's castle. And a building block that someone colored on.
The point is, there are memories in this chest, even if I can't remember what they are.
"What should I keep?" I ask my daughter, trying to summon up an image of a smaller blonde-haired girl and some special doll. I consider one of the last few Barbies who still has all her hair. It's always fun to keep a Barbie around, if only for the ironic possibilities. But Barbie never really caught on in our house, despite the efforts of friends who began organizing a Barbie-themed baby shower five minutes after I declared that my house would be a Barbie-free zone. Note to self: And you didn't see that coming?
As a result, my daughter was born with a collection of Barbies it would take most girls years to assemble, assuming they were only interested in the ones that looked like they made their living giving blowjobs. We didn't get any Barbie school teachers or veterinarians. But we had every feather boa and plastic stiletto Mattel ever made. Because friends don't let friends make sanctimonious pronouncements about how they will raise their children.
Lucky for me, slutty Barbie never really caught on. I can part with her.
The fairies, on the other hand, were practically real. Even now, she can recite their names, their back stories, their powers. Remember? she asks. These were the icons of her first-grade fairy posse. She and two best friends spent practically every recess pretending to be fairies.
They haven't been out of this box in years. Their shiny clothes are askew and their sparkly hair is a mess. But there's still a little magic there.
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