A few weeks ago, I took Ezra to Target for some good old-fashioned blowing of all the allowance money.
His choices basically tell you everything you need to know about the type of child he is:
A sweet ass Bumblebee Transformer and a crib for his precious baby Bloon.
The Transformer almost didn't happen, however, because Ezra was very torn between it and a set of "market stuff" that he wanted to get for Bubby. It was a $7 accessory set designed for one of Target's doll lines, in case your doll wanted to shop at her local farmer's market: A wide-brimmed hat, a basket, some fruits and vegetables, plus a couple tiny little dollars.
After much debating, Ezra opted for Bumblebee and decided to save up for Bubby's Market Stuff for next time.
He dutifully performed all his chores and daily tasks without complaint. He was a man on a mission. Market Stuff. Market Stuff!
(In case you're curious, his chore responsibilities include: making his bed, putting his laundry away, setting and clearing the table, loading the dishwasher, doing his homework, plus help with general toy/clutter and keeping his room clean.)
He also ate two or three apples every single day, hoping that one would knock his loose tooth out so the Tooth Fairy money could speed things up as well.
Jason took him back to Target on Saturday. Alas. There was no Market Stuff. The set was gone, and neither Jason nor I could find it or anything similar online. Ezra was incredibly disappointed, but apparently handled it pretty well. There was nothing else he wanted to buy. He brought his $7 back home and put it back in his piggy bank.
So yesterday, on a whim, I took him to the American Girl store. I wasn't even sure he'd go in with me; the word GIRL is so prominent everywhere and of course the entire place is coated in various shades of Pepto Bismol pink.
I told him the store might have things for Bloon and Bubby though, and that was enough for him. Bloon IS a girl, after all, and was certainly dressed to fit in, wearing her best pink sparkly party dress and pink flowered sandals. Seems legit, I guess.
I have never seen this child so excited, so happy, so full of joy at every single tiny cute thing he saw. This was the coolest store he'd ever seen.
After noting that the La Patisserie playset was "messy," he carefully cleaned it up, finding the perfect spot for each little item.
He ping-ponged from display to display, especially once he realized that each doll had her own unique lunch/food accessory option. He announced that Bloon would be starting kindergarten "next week" and would require a lunch box.
He settled on Julie's. It cost a hell of a lot more than $7, but I let that slide.
His happiness was infectious. Nobody batted an eye at the little boy running around with a loveworn stuffed bear in a party dress. Nobody made him feel unwelcome or strange. Shoppers smiled at him. Staffers high-fived him and bowed politely when he introduced Bloon.
I followed him around with a big stupid grin on my face, as he demanded to know each doll's name and backstory and mildly lost his shit over the historical dolls. He declared Samantha to be his favorite because she was the Most Beautiful.
At the register, Bloon played peekaboo with the cashier. She mostly cared about my super-inside-Internet-joke no its becky t-shirt, but when she handed our purchase over said, "You know, thank you for not pushing gender stereotypes on him. He's probably the happiest kid I've seen all day, and it's awesome."
I wrote about American Girl here once, about the catalogs that followed me from address to address, almost taunting me and my prolific boy-children-having. I wrote that American Girl was one of the few things that could make me feel a twinge of sadness that I wouldn't get to share with a daughter (even if the prices and the excess and the omg girlyness were probably all good bullets to dodge).
I wrote about my own original Samantha doll, a long-ago, pre-kids gift from Jason, who remained in her box in our basement. Perhaps I'll give her to a granddaughter, someday, I wrote.
Obviously, I knew exactly what to do when we got back home.
Before he opened the box, he had to confirm that yes, it really did say American Girl, and I was presenting him with the real deal.
It checked out. He was excited.
"Meet Samantha!" he announced to his brothers.
"Cool," Noah said, looking up from his latest Bionicle set. "Hi Samantha."
(I'd completely forgotten about the mini-Samantha doll I had as well. My sister bought her for me after I spent an entire Christmas seething with jealousy over my niece's new Kirsten doll. I was 22. Yeah.)
We brushed her hair, inspected her wardrobe, put on her hat and ascertained that the mini Meet Samantha book fit perfectly in Bloon's lunch box, which was GREAT, because tomorrow was Library Day, apparently. Then he and Noah played with the Bioncle set until dinner.
He promised to take very good care of her, and keep her in the box whenever he wasn't playing with her, and I promised myself not to check out eBay prices on original Samanthas because I just don't want to know.
Of course, when I came downstairs this morning it was obvious that NOBODY -- not even the Most Beautiful Samantha -- is ever going to replace Bloon's #1 spot in Ezra's heart and care...