The Realization That I was Pretty Shallow as a Child

by robinhardwick

I’ve been at my brother’s house in Long Island for the last five days, hanging out with my four-year old niece and fifteen-month year old nephew, (I’m a PANK!) and I haven’t even stepped outside the house once (except for a quick trip to Trader Joe’s, natch). Nothing before this even exists, I can’t even remember how I lived before this. Just immersing myself in childland. I’ve watched the same episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic four times. This was the plan. I want to absorb so much of their essence because I am not sure the next time I will be back here.

Luckily, the parents are big promoters of reading and my niece has hundreds of books in the house, many of which I have read to her. The moment she was born, I went ahead and bought her books that she needed to have, even though she wouldn’t read them for a couple more years. Reading was such a big part of my childhood, I knew that it was important to have my favorite books ever. One was Three Days in A River In a Red Canoe (A Reading Rainbow pick, y’all!) about a young girl who goes on a camping/canoe trip with her mother and her aunt. Now reading it again, I see it as a sassy divorcee who is trying to find some adventure in her life.


The other book I got her was The Best-Loved Doll. I don’t even know how I first found this book; I believe it was in a lot of used books we used to get at library sales. Here’s the basic premise: Betsy is invited to her friend’s party, and is asked to bring a doll, and prizes will be awarded for oldest doll, best dressed doll, and a doll that can do the most things. Betsy, being the lucky little privileged girl, has dolls that match all these categories, how convenient. But she decides to being Jennifer, the roughed up, haggard doll with a crooked wig. At the party, all the girls party with their dolls and others are awarded the prizes, but the mother at the party makes up an award for Jennifer, the “best-loved doll” because she looks like a hot mess from all the wear and tear. BECAUSE IT’S NOT HOW YOU LOOK, IT’S HOW MUCH YOU CAN LOVE SOMEONE. If that wasn’t obvious. Meanwhile, I could barely get through the book without crying.


Yes, I cried about the message, but here’s the sad secret: I loved this book as a kid because I was a materialistic little bitch. I loved dolls (uh, still do, see: my condo) and wanted to have as many as I could wrestle out of my parents meager salaries. Here was a girl, who was lucky enough to have several expensive dolls, and a friend who held doll parties. Did I mention that the prizes at the party were a whole other doll? Sheet, get invited to a party, and come home with a doll. God, I envied them.

Look at these lucky little bitches, all with fancy party dresses, big bows in their hair, and a whole other table for their g-damn dolls. AND I WANTED THAT. Not to mention their fancy, Park Slope townhouse. (I was also into real estate as a child. I was obsessed with Annie mostly for the three story, atrium mansion.)


Let’s not even get started on the Berenstain Bear books. That Father bear is a goddamn racist and sexist.