The sweetness of our first official grandparent/grandchild “date” prompted me to plan another happily-ever-after family event just for the girls: me, my doll (my daughter), her dolls (her three daughters), and their dolls (really — their dolls: McKenna, Ashley, and Katie). Our foo-foo destination — brunch at the American Girl Doll Bistro.
The younger girls’ dolls are Americans, girls, and dolls – just, unbeknownst to them, with a less expensive “g”. To avoid melt-downs, I called ahead to inquire if all dolls would be welcome. Thankfully, the AG representative assured me that they do NOT discriminate against dolls of any origin, even from the less affluent side of the tracks.
When I picked up my dates, I expected the front door welcoming committee with the usual accolades – hugs, kisses, and “You’re the best grandma in the world”. Instead, one granddaughter argued with her mom about the relevance of brushing hair, another love-wrestled her little brother to tears, and the littlest stomped, crossed her arms and protruded her bottom lip. “I didn’t get bweakfast.”
“We’re going for brunch, Sweet Pea.”
“I don’t want bwunch. I want pancakes.”
Their dolls looked perky and groomed — but them — not so much. Apparently, they’d stayed up past their bedtime the night before. I threatened that we couldn’t go until they brushed their hair. No bristles made contact. I stood my ground — for about 45 seconds — until the one who once cut her sister’s hair said, “Why can’t we just be bald and wear wigs?”
At the bistro, while I envisioned bald granddaughters, two girls at the table next to us gushed over official AG photographs. I whispered to the server, “How much?”
“Twelve dollars each.”
I flinched. It seemed a silly extravagance on top of barely touched $14 pancakes, especially since I brought my camera. Unfortunately, the granddaughter with perfect hearing determined that life would not be worth living without official pictures. So, she whined. I stood my ground — for about 55 seconds — until the “cheapskate” sign flashed on my forehead.
Apparently, the AG photographer saw my neon sign. She humored me by asking if I wanted to take some pictures, too. I happily complied.
To escape the paparazzi frenzy, the girls fled to nearest amusement park ride — the AG store escalator. As my daughter and the oldest descended, I climbed on the top step with the youngest. The middle granddaughter let go of my hand and stopped, causing a jam of escalator-goers behind her. I heard “I’m too scared” as her sister and I disappeared below.”You wait there!” The Superman theme played in my head as we hastily got in line to ascend.
“Wook!” The youngest pointed. The bottom half of the descending escalator was empty. In the middle, an embarrassed, but chivalrous teenage male AG security guard held my granddaughter’s hand. Granddaughter #2 beamed like a little debutant as an amused entourage packed behind them.
We grown-ups suggested real amusement park rides to avoid making the AG Doll’s worst customers list. After zooming, swooping, spinning, and saying “no” to 375 pleas for SpongeBob SquarePants novelty items, my daughter and I suggested a dessert diversion. The girls chose cotton candy and then determined they liked my daughter’s and my ice cream better. I stood my ground for about 15 seconds — until they found extra spoons.
The flawed fairy tale might have seemed a disappointment — if not for little boxes of table topics that grace the tables at the AG Doll Bistro. One question: “What was your favorite childhood memory?”
My daughter and I reminisced about holidays past. Two of the granddaughters cited their birthdays. But, soon-to-be-Escalator-Girl put her head on my shoulder and wistfully sighed, “THIS is MY favorite childhood memory.”
Seems the best memories don’t require perfect hair or even perfect harmony.