Gemma-Rose is playing by herself in the family room. The floor has disappeared under a sea of Barbie dolls, clothes, and accessories. My youngest daughter is absorbed in a huge Barbie game. I watch as she lines up all the Barbies and all the Kens. And then I notice something strange… something very strange.
“Why are the Ken dolls wearing dresses?” I ask.
“They don’t have anything else to wear,” Gemma-Rose replies. “All the trousers are worn out.”
She shows me a garment that was once a sparkly prince’s suit. The pants are split in a dozen places. “They can’t wear these,” Gemma-Rose giggles. “That wouldn’t be modest. And the Kens can’t go around wearing nothing at all. That would be even worse.” She pretends to avert her eyes, and giggles again.
Naked Kens? No. We can’t have that. Something has got to be done.
“I’ll have to buy them new clothes,” I decide, and Gemma-Rose’s eyes light up. I hardly ever buy her new toys.
So I take a trip into town to search for new Ken clothes. Sophie decides to come with me but we leave Gemma-Rose at home. She is still absorbed in her huge Barbie game. There is only one shop in town that sells toys so I head straight there. I look along the shelves. There are plenty of Barbie clothes but not a single Ken outfit.
“What do they expect Ken to wear?” I ask. Sophie shrugs her shoulders, not knowing the answer. “Barbie dresses?”
What am I to do? I can’t go home empty-handed and watch the light fade from Gemma-Rose’s eyes. But then I see something. Sophie sees it too.
“Wow! Look, Mum! Merida from the movie Brave! Isn’t she pretty?”
I have a thought: “Do you think Gemma-Rose would like a Merida doll?”
Should I? Shouldn’t I? I start debating with myself:
Gemma-Rose would really love this doll… It’s a lot of money… But it’s so pretty… I was only going to buy a set of Ken clothes, not a doll. She has plenty of dolls. Look at all the ones she has inherited from the older girls… But those dolls are looking so old and their clothes are wearing out, and it is so special owning something that was chosen just for you... Buying the doll wouldn’t be sensible… But I won’t have a little girl who wants to play with dolls, for much longer. Soon I won’t have anyone to buy dolls for… But there is no one to pass the doll onto when she no longer wants to play with it. It would be a waste of money… Think of her smile if I came home with a doll… It’s not her birthday. She’ll get spoilt… Or maybe she won’t...
I have to admit Gemma-Rose doesn’t really need another doll. There is no good reason why I should buy it. But I don't listen to reason...
Go on. Buy the doll.
So I buy the doll, a pale-skinned Merida doll. There is a delightful sprinkling of freckles on her nose and cheeks, and she has long red hair that falls in curls over her shoulders. Gemma-Rose is going to adore her.
I walk through the front door and call, “Gemma-Rose! I have a present for you!”
Gemma-Rose runs towards me, and I hold out the plastic shopping bag. She reaches in and draws out the doll in a box and her eyes open wide. She can hardly speak: “For me? Merida! Is it mine?”
I assure Gemma-Rose she is not dreaming. The doll belongs to her. She thrusts her arms around my waist, and I am well and truly hugged.
“I couldn’t find any Ken clothes,” I say apologetically. But Gemma-Rose no longer cares about Ken clothes. The male dolls can continue wearing dresses. She has a Merida doll…. an unexpected Merida doll… a new doll chosen just for her. She grins widely.
And then I realise that sometimes life is not always about making sensible decisions. Sometimes doing things for no good reason at all is very important.
I bask in all Gemma-Rose's radiating joy and I grin too.