Saturday, May 1, 2010


 Up until this month, I'd never purchased anything for my daughter at Toys R Us.

We tend to acquire toys three ways:
1. as birthday/holiday gifts
2. through garage sales/curb cruising
3. hand-me-downs

So, standing in line at Toys R Us, with a new, tags-on, purple princess dress draped over my arm,  I found myself prone to mood swings.  At one moment, elated that I'm taking a more active role in replacing the poorly scripted toys with ones that match our values.  At another moment, I'm annoyed that I'm out buying crap in order to lure my daughter's mind from where we never intended her mind to be in the first place.
Then I am up, it is my turn to pay.  I plunk down the dress and the woman behind me leans forward, "Oooh, that's a pretty one.  Who is it?"  She is searching the dress for that small but powerful piece of plastic that tells us which DP dress this is.  Her eyes are still scanning, as she shares, "My daughter's favorite is Cinderella."

Really?  Because that's my daughter's favorite too!  And I'm right now headed home to throw away her favorite princess dress.

The swap:
 generic (with our own added story)                          

instead of scripted

And Snow White is replaced by this dress:

C loves the tassels and beads, and I love telling her about American Indian Pow-wows and fancy dance competitions.  (We'll get to colonization and holocaust eventually.  One thing at a time.)


  1. That's great! What a cool project--I can't wait to read more.

  2. As your daughter gets older, how about y'all MAKING the projects together? Even if the costume/accessory/doodad is a "princess" one, C will learn new skills (sewing, carpentry, etc) and will learn how satisfying it is to be able to say "I made it myself!" :-)

  3. I don't know, but I've always heard that it's kinda... well, *rude* to dress up in other people's ceremonial garb. I wouldn't dress my kid up like a nun or a priest, and neither would I tell them it's okay to wear something "vaguely American Indian" when I'm not, well, of that ethnicity. (What tribe is that, anyway?)

  4. arkivarie---
    We've been moving in that direction, recently making a paper bag dress for the book, Paper Bag Princess. I'm a terrible sewer, carpenter, but your blog has ideas, so feel free to send any beginner projects my way...C and I can learn together. You're spot on in that bringing her to "I can, I made," rather than, "We bought" should be the focus.

    Good point. The American Indian dress was brought in b/c C had seen some photos of me with kids from a school where I used to teach, a Lakota Sioux school on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She had asked questions about the students, and then asked about Pocohontas. I wanted to bring in some sort of non-Pocohontas dress (the dress part if very important to her) and share some stories of actual American Indian women, non-Disneyfied. We used the dress to talk about some Lakota traditions, which I'm sure we could have done without the gear, but my aim was to replace the Disney dresses to expand her play.