What is it about girls and dolls? Matt and I try not to stereotype the toys we get our kids by their gender. We generally try to let them tell us what they’re interested in and then get that toy no matter which gender (or age range) it’s meant for. So up to this year we hadn’t invested a lot of money into dolls for Kaylee. She’d gotten a couple of dolls as gifts but she hadn’t shown a whole lot of interest in playing with them and they mostly sat in her bed looking pretty.
Then comes along her third birthday and all that changed. She got a shopping cart for her birthday which we were very excited about because Brendan had had a cart when he was little and played with it to the point where it was broken in so many places we had to get rid of it. And since Kaylee had shown an interest in pushing whatever she could find back and forth across our basement, I felt this was going to be a good addition to our toy collection.
Sure enough as soon as we got that thing together she began racing around our basement with it. But I immediately noticed a difference between how she played with it and how Brendan had played with his. He would fill the cart with anything that he could find and cram the basket so full it would begin to sag (hence how it broke). He never had any specific goals in his play beyond filling his cart as full as he possibly could. Kaylee on the other hand had specific things she was doing. She’d come to Matt and I and ask what we wanted her to buy at the store and then she’d go find that thing. Soon I noticed she’d stick a stuffed animal into her cart and take it “shopping” with her.
So when Christmas rolled around I was excited to know that Kaylee was going to be getting a dolly. Well, as it turned out 4 dollies. And, truth be told, these weren’t her first dollies either. She had gotten a couple of dolls as gifts in previous Christmases but up until this year had never shown a whole lot of interest in playing with them. They mostly ended up sitting on her bed looking pretty.
Not this year though, as soon as I got those dolls opened she was in a whole new world. She carries her babies around the house or plays with them in her room. And our gift givers didn’t leave out the accessories. She’s got a baby bed, a potty, a high chair, a car seat, and a doctor kit that she uses in her playtime.
For a couple of weeks after Christmas the dolly stuff was all in her bedroom because I knew I needed to go down and organize the basement before we moved all of the new toys down into it. During that time she played with them like crazy. Once the basement was done we moved all of their Christmas presents downstairs and incorporated them into our sorting system. I figured Kaylee would like this a lot since we have a kitchen playset down there, along with a million dishes and toy food. She also has her little Crazy Coupe car and her cart to ride around in.
But once it was down there she pretty much stopped playing with her dolls at all. At first I wondered if the novelty had just worn off and she grew tired of playing with them so often. But then I noticed that she almost never goes to the basement by herself. I mean, she’s able to. She can navigate the stairs by herself, is able to reach the light switch with ease, and there’s nothing dangerous down there for me to worry about since it’s a playroom designed for the kids. But unless the boys were already down there playing she almost exclusively spent her time upstairs.
So I got an idea. Up until now we have never allowed the kids to keep toys in their bedrooms. One of the few things I dislike about our house is that the two bedrooms are tiny. With just their bed, dresser, and desk the boys room has almost no floor space at all. Kaylee has a bit more at the moment since she still sleeps in a toddler bed. Why not put that space to use and create her own little playhouse in her bedroom? She could have a kitchen, a dining room, bedroom, and bathroom all for her dollies.
I finally got it all done last week. I cleaned out her bedroom and moved all the different components in. It takes some imagination to see the different rooms of the house, but she loves it. I moved the kitchen and dishes into her room but left the food and cart downstairs. Now she can take her babies to the grocery store when the boys are down there playing and she has a little basket she can use to bring some up and keep it in the “house.” I also left the doctor kit downstairs for a similar reason. She can take her dolls downstairs and go to the doctors office.
As soon as it was finished I notices a huge uptick in the amount of time she spent playing with her dollies. She began to carry them with her everywhere and referring to herself as mommy. She’d talk for her babies and carry on complete conversations. The best one, however, was Friday morning. Kaylee is not usually out of bed when Matt leaves for work. As stated previously, she isn’t really much of a morning person. She absolutely hates to be hugged and loved on first thing in the morning.
So when she stumbled out of her room on Friday morning a little earlier than usual Matt was quite shocked. And rather than just scoop her into a big hug like her would the boys he asked her if she wanted a hug before he left. She was clutching one of her dollies (the one she’d named Skylander–and yes all the names of her dolls are that…odd) and nodded emphatically that she wanted a hug. Matt crouched down and opened his arms. Kaylee rushes forward and shoves, and I mean SHOVES baby Skylander into his chest.
He really was not expecting that and the force of the doll into his chest put him slightly off balance. But he recovered and gave the dolly a hug. Evidently Miss Kaylee wasn’t looking for a hug, her much more of a morning person doll was. It’s nice to know, I guess, that my daughters imagination works well enough that she can even manage it when she’s not quite awake.