Damn you, American Girl

Like most women now in their early 30s, late 20s, I had an American Girl doll growing up. I think I had two, but I remember Samantha. She looked like me. She was Victorian and I lived in an old Victorian home. She looked like me. She was smart. You know, she was me.

I don't necessarily remember her story other than that.

But I was excited when my niece got her first AG doll. I bought her a matching coat so she and her doll could be twins. We went to the AG store in NYC. And we learned that Saige's story was that the arts were going to be cut in her school. I vaguely remember thinking that was a little pale in comparison to the ones I did remember -- the Great Depression, Civil War, WWII. Seemed to be First World Problems a bit. But my niece was happy and I hoped that would be the worst of her troubles someday.

And my then-3-year-old was very much in need of her own AG doll so she could be like her big cousin. My sister-in-law and told her and my other niece (also 3 at the time) that they could get AG dolls when they were 4. We'd figure it out later. And we got so lucky. AG had a random sale and we spent a third of what we should have. But there were only two choices, so I just picked the one that looked the most like my daughter.

I didn't read her "story" until after I clicked to buy, but it was that Marie-Grace was one-half of a best friend duo from New Orleans in the 1850s and her best friend, Cecile, is black. Great, I thought, I can teach her real lessons from this!

Fast forward nearly 10 months after my purchase to her 4th birthday. I opened the package for the first time and wrapped it all up for her to re-open.

She was so excited.

"Is this because I'm FOUR??? ... And look, mama, there's a book!!"

Aw, crap, forgot about that. So I promised to read her a chapter each night and tried to explain what the hell a chapter is...

And in the first chapter we had to cover slavery, prejudice, French and death.

Damn you, American Girl.

It hit me so hard to discuss such heavy topics with my baby, but death hit me hardest. Maybe because I thought she sort of understood. She knows Grammy is in Heaven, that she isn't here with us. But I guess that's more abstract since she never actually met her grandmother. Here's how our conversation went after we reviewed that Marie-Grace's mother died (cholera -- ick!).

"When is Marie-Grace's mom coming back?"
Well, honey, she's not. She's gone.
"Is that because she died?"
Yes, it is. When you die, you are gone forever.
"Why do people die?"
Um ... Well, some people get sick like Marie-Grace's mom. Others get hurt or just grow old.
"But my Mimi is almost old!"
[Laughter] Yes, honey, but not that old.
"I don't want my Mimi to die..." [cue the eyes welling up]
Don't worry, love, Mimi isn't going anywhere. You don't have to worry about that just yet.

But in the back of my mind, I can't help but think that I'm probably more in danger than my mom (Mimi, of course) and that should never be true for a four-year-old. She doesn't know that and she should never live in fear of losing me. But she will realize that at some point. She's smart enough to put those dots together in the future.

So it's nights like that where I can't sleep for wondering if my delay is risking my known loves for an unknown one. Teaching your preschooler about death is hard enough when it's not your own that you're facing.

BRCA is not a death sentence. It is truly a chance to beat a death sentence that has hit so many before me. Let's just hope I get there.

For that face and her little sister's face when I give her an American Girl doll in a couple years. Let's send another prayer up that I can snag that deal again then...