After dropping off our car for an oil change, the three of us (myself and my two young children) sat down on the floor of the dealership’s playroom and began to rummage through a big toy box of random plastic toys. It contained dinosaurs, cars, a tea set, and the highlight for my daughter, a few Snap N’ Style dolls. We dressed the dolls to attend a tea party when suddenly a dinosaur driving a car crashed the party. He quickly learned the error of his ways and became their pet. After a bit he had to save everyone from the giant (aka my one-year-old).
We played like this for a solid forty-five minutes until our car was ready. My focus was entirely on the two of them, with zero distractions in an attempt to keep them happy and meltdown free for as long as possible.
As we left, my daughter requested we purchase some dolls like we had been playing with. I said she could put it on her Christmas list and figured she would quickly forget about them.
I was wrong.
She passionately talked about these dolls every day, so much so that I became determined to find them. eBay came to the rescue where I discovered a listing that contained not only the dolls, clothing, and a wardrobe, but also a baby, crib, high chair, dog, and dog bed. I had to have it. My daughter needed it. It made her so happy. We had made such a wonderful memory that we would recreate at home.
Everything came a few days later, and the joy on my daughter’s face was so sweet and so precious ... for about two minutes. Then she looked at me and said, "Where’s the dinosaur and car? Can you play with me like we did the other time?"
And that’s when it hit me. My daughter wasn’t holding on to the memory of playing with these specific dolls. She was holding on to the memory of playing with me.
Time and money had been wasted when I could have simply used the toys we already had and fully engaged with her the way I had at the Honda dealership that day ... free of distractions. No dishes to do, laundry to swap over, dogs to take out, lunches to make, text messages to answer. Just mommy entering her world of imagination. It broke my heart that I was so blind to this to begin with. It wasn’t the doll that had made her so happy ... it was me.