However, when American Girl was created, there's no getting around that they were intended for the 8+ crowd. Hence the whole books and encouragement of studying history and craftwork and stuff, and the focus around a girl of the era turning ten at some point in their series. They still stick to that, even. And society does, in many ways, encourage kids to skip past childhood--or, to paraphrase C. S. Lewis1, try to rush girls to get to a certain age and then expect them to dawdle there as long as possible. The fact that someone tried to come up with the term "pretween" says some shit right there. Don't get me started on a store called "Forever 21" or I'll get completely off topic. So with this age skewing, the span for dolls seems to be from age 1 to age 8, and after about third grade you're just too old for dolls. Which is another rant altogether.
So yes, the age for doll play seems squashed in our society. Still. There should be a lower limit for getting a doll for a child--especially an expensive, high cost doll like AG--and that's because they don't treat things right.
|"Gently played with" my black ass.|
The fact of the matter is that children under a certain age don't take care of things like they should. They might want to, and they might claim they will, but they just don't. They lose shoes, they don't do their homework, they throw things in corners, they forget to walk the dog or change the litter box or not track mud into the house. They can't often remember to brush their teeth or take their baths or any of that. Shit, some kids love the idea of candy for dinner. I once spent four weeks tying ribbons on my off brand Barbie dolls ankles and flinging them off balconies, just to see what happened when they hit the pavement. I likely wouldn't have done that with an AG, but still. Children can be destructive. And they don't care sometimes if what they're destroying costs ten dollars or a hundred and ten.
And under five? Forget about it. Let me show you some examples of super fail.
|This is certainly the "artwork" of someone too young to have an AG doll.|
|This doll has seen things, man.|
|Good lord, how do you DO that?|
And in case you think I'm being a little harsh? I once saw this in action. Before the AG store got up here, I went to one of the fashion shows. And I saw a girl, maybe six or so, swinging her doll by her hair in circles, over and over and chucking her onto the floor. And the mother was all "She just adores that doll so much! Isn't she so sweet?" I may have shot her a look that said "please don't talk to me any more." Furthermore, my explorations on the internet have revealed that people have give AG dolls--not the Bitty Baby ones, the full sized ones--to children under the age of two. And then wonder why they aren't taking the best care of their toys. Children under two often haven't mastered the fine art of talking, I doubt they have mastered the skills to take care of expensive dolls.
The plain and simple truth is that children who don't have the mental capacity or home training to take care of nice things don't take care of nice things, and giving them expensive dolls is asking for them to tear that shit up. At some point, I personally came up with the formula of How Much I'm Willing to Spend on a Kid:
"$(Age * 10 ) + $50."2
Basically, before the age of ten, the most expensive thing a child can say they own or that I will buy for them to have as theirs is the cost of their age times ten, plus fifty bucks. This means if you're five, the most expensive thing I'm buying you is going to be $100--and that's really pushing it. I have to either really like you or have birthed you myself, and as of right now I have no kids. Before then, that shit belongs to me and if you misbehave or mistreat it, I'm not getting you a new one. But some people don't give three fucks about how much they spent on a child or how they treat their toys and playthings. I can guarantee that in this world someone too young to have an AG doll tore a nice doll up, and then Mommy and/or Daddy went out and got them a brand new one and they only learned the value of a dollar by being given so many.
There's a reason the dolls came with books initially and the Historicals and GotY still do--it's assumed the child can read enough to understand the book coming with them, and maybe ID with the character that the story is about. All the AG characters are in that 9-10 range. Yes, my gang skews older, but that is my head thoughts, not others. Also I'm a grown ass woman. I'm not going to scribble Crayola all over my doll's face and rip her leg off--and even as a kid, I wouldn't have done that, Barbie bungee jumping notwithstanding. If your child won't take care of her stuff, don't give her more stuff to tear apart and then wonder why it keeps happening.
The books say 8+, and I'm a bit of a hardass about that. My thought is that the characters have books for a reason, and it's a good test of if your child is ready for an AG doll. Give them one of the character books--not the paper dolls, the actual books, like a Meet book or one of the Girls of the Year. And have them read it, and tell you the basic plot and answer some questions, a la mini book report. If they can do that, they might be old enough to have an AG. But If your child can't read an AG book enough to tell you the bare premise of the story, don't buy them an AG. A Bitty Baby. Maybe. Or a cheaper doll. Go to Target.
And if your child isn't even enrolled in preschool? You might not want to buy them a $100 doll to tear up, because they certainly will.
Now I've got to snap as many pics of the black doll up there as I can, since she is now being cared for by the Doll Whisperer. AKA me.
|It's okay. Miss Nethie is going to fix you right up.|
1 I have a lot of issues with C. S. Lewis, but I agree with that sentiment. Broken Clocks, and all.
2 This might change when I actually, you know, have a child. But for now it's a good formula when figuring out what to give as gifts to other people's kids out my pocket.