Barbie Houses Are Better With Friends

I knew this girl when I was little who was being raised by a single mom. This was scandalous in our small town as there weren’t that many single moms. Actually there were probably a lot more than I realized but within my very small town I lived in a small bubble that included my elementary school and my Southern Baptist church. Hence the scandal… that may have only existed in my own head.
Anyway, this girl was beautiful. She had naturally curly hair and dark, smooth skin. And by dark I mean darker than mine, which is about 92.3% of the entire world. She had long, feathery eye lashes that batted over deep brown eyes. And she had the Barbie Dream House. And Barbie Corvette. And all the Barbies. All. Of. The. Barbies.
I had Barbies. I had a Barbie Town Home. I was not at all Barbie deprived. But in my head, this girl had all the Barbies and I really wanted to be her friend so I could play with her Barbies. I’ve been shallow for a long time.
So one day I finally scored an invitation to her house for a play date. Although they weren’t called play dates in the early 80’s. I don’t think there was a name for the playing. It was just playing. I wore what I felt was about my coolest outfit and my mom drove me over to her house. I brought a Barbie of my own, you know, just in case we needed a spare, and it’s a good thing I did. What I didn’t know was that a play date with this girl meant that you go to her house and watch her play. I was not allowed to touch anything. Not the Barbie Dream House or anything inside. Not the Barbie Corvette. Not any of the Barbies. It was maybe the worst play date ever. And to make it worse, her mom checked in on us several times, saw what was happening, and did nothing.
Flash forward 30 years.
My daughter invited a sweet friend over for a sleepover. They swam, ate dinner, watched cartoons, and got ready for bed. I poured a glass of wine. Went out on the back porch and put my feet up. Suddenly I see my daughter at the back door and she’s crying.
“My friend wants to go home. You need to text her mom.”
I was so confused. They had been laughing and playing and having a swell time the whole evening. How could things have gone so terribly wrong that I was going to now ask this girls mom to get out of her pajamas, put on a bra, and drive to my house to retrieve her child?
It turns out that the friend had touched my daughters things. Her precious junk stacked ever so hoardingly on her dresser had been touched and knocked over and then, in a manner that can only be described as cuckoo, my daughter had shamed her friend and made her feel no longer welcome in our home.
This is where I flashed back to the Barbie play date.
How did I raise a kid that can’t share? She has a little brother.She went to preschool before elementary. She’s a Girl Scout. I thought I’d put her through all the sharing courses.
Apparently not.
She was so angry and tried so hard to justify her behavior that my head was spinning as I listened to her. I tell you what…parenting should really come with a better hand book.
Since that night, we’ve had several other eye opening experiences where I’ve seen that sharing and cooperating with peers is not her strong suit. My mind is blowing because she’s so sweet in most situations. Situations that don’t involve her stuff. She prays for others on a regular basis. She knows the Golden Rule by heart and has scriptures about loving others posted on sticky notes all over her room. Apparently you just aren’t allowed to touch them.
Knowing what to do and actually doing it are often two very different things. Paul even wrote about it in the Bible so I know this isn’t a new problem for this generation. It’s yet another matter of the heart that I have to wrestle and teach her how to wrestle. That’s what parenting is, right? I can’t wrestle it for her but I’m going to need to coach her through it. I have to help her see that this is a battle worth gearing up for because you have to know how to be a friend before you can have friends.
And having a Barbie Dream House is more fun if you have someone else to play with.

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