Last night’s Spectrummy Mummy Facebook page status:
(Medical procedure + new special interest + trip to the mall) – spare cash = guilt to the power of 10. My equation for today.
We have another new interest. I’ve quit calling them special, my Pudding is a little too easy in her consumer affections these days. A few weeks ago we were at our local mall, when I noticed a large crowd gathered in front of a new shop. We moseyed on by and saw that there was a new American Girl store. There were little girls everywhere with multiple red boxes. Something tells me that our part of America is not quite hit so hard by these economic times. For those unfamiliar, American Girl is a shop that sells ultra-expensive dolls and matching clothes and accessories for girls. We looked through the window, and Pudding was enthralled, and quickly demanded to go inside. The place was so busy, that there was a ticket system to gain entry. Even if we were prepared to wait hours to get inside, the place was still crowded. I promised her we’d go in another time.
One day I pulled up the web site, and she quickly discovered a favourite, and named her “Kelly” (Pudding likes to give her own names to things she likes). Since then, at least once a day, she has asked me to show her pictures of Kelly. I heard that our store also has a bistro and girls can dine with their doll, and I knew how much Pudding would love it. I talked the hubby into it, and found the earliest reservation we could make was for the last week we were here. Perfect- one last treat for our American girl.
Yesterday we had to take Pudding to have an EKG to check that everything was fine with her heart (it is) due to her new medication. She didn’t want to go. She has seen enough doctors lately, I don’t blame her. Enter the guilt, because of course, it isn’t fair that this is her life. It especially isn’t fair that this is her life for what little time she has left of being an authentic American girl. Armed with stickers and lollipops, Pudding did great, in fact, she eventually liked it so much there she didn’t want to leave. We decided to do something nice for her, but at 99F, it was too hot to do anything outdoors. We made our way to the mall. Somehow, this translated to going to the American Girl store.
Oh I know, what you’re thinking- we got her the doll, right? Well, we have decided to get her the doll she likes. But it is expensive, and her birthday isn’t until December. We need to get the money together for it, but also it has to be seen as special for her. She can’t just get something because she wants it. We’d planned on buying her one for when she goes there for her meal. That week will see her packing up all her toys for a few months, and the Kelly doll will give her something to focus on for the flight.
We went into the store, and it was Pudding heaven: dolls and pink everywhere. She was very enamoured with a doll’s iron and ironing board, which bemused me- ironing is man’s work in our house, she has never seen me do that particular task. Of course, she wanted everything and the struggle was keeping her little fingers out of the boxes. We took her to see the restaurant where we’d be taking her in two weeks. Naturally, she wanted in. I tried to explain that we could go there next time, but I’m fairly certain she wasn’t listening. She had her own agenda.
We made our way downstairs and she found the Kelly doll. Immediately she hugged it, planted kisses all over the face, and smoothed the hair. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed a reaction to something that was at once so typical and so Pudding. She wanted that doll like any other 4 year-old, but she loved it like only Pudding can. She is the very definition of all or nothing, my girl.
Spectrummy Daddy and I looked at each other helplessly. Moments later Cubby decided he needed a boy doll too. Where was a doting grandparent when you needed them? We had to get out of there. I tried reason to get her to put the doll back, but Pudding loves beyond reason. Eventually with more guilt than it is humanly possible to feel, I had to prise it from her hands, place it out of reach, and carry the screaming Pudding out. All eyes were on us, of course, but I doubt I’m the only mother to have carried a brokenhearted little girl out of there without a red box.
As we neared the doors, a sales assistant approached with a sticker. Pudding was incandescent with rage, thrust the sticker back at the lady and between sobs forced out:
…which was just awesome pronouns, especially when distressed! I’m sure the lady was confused: there are many dolls with names, but none of those are Kelly. Once we were safely out, her newly motivated language skills were in full force.
“I don’t want to go to the playground, I want to go back to the Kelly doll. I want Mummy to get her. Mummy, please get her.”
Each polite, appropriate, functional request an extra little stab of guilt. Eventually the tears stopped, and I talked to her about earning the doll with her tokens. She seemed to get it. The chart had worked before in getting what she wanted. She began to cooperate, and after some time in the playground, we left for home.
This morning we began the day with her usual insistence that she stay home with me instead of going to school for the morning. Later she told me she had to go to the mall, for Kelly. I’ve got to make a calendar with a picture of the Kelly doll. Two weeks is going to be exhausting when time is measured in guilt minutes. And then of course, I feel guilty for Cubby. More guilt dollars. There is going to be a point where I’ll be the first ever stay-at-home autism mother who is forced to return to work because of the guilt.
American Guilt, at a mall near you.