Monday, September 9, 2013
The Lalaloopsies Move Out
If there's one thing we fight about with Anna, it's her messiness; namely, the state of her room. I can't tell you the number of arguments we've had; the tears; the yelling; and the wavering Dan and I have done not knowing how far to go with expecting her to pick up after herself vs. not forcing a naturally messy 9-year-old not strong in organizational skills to be as neat as either of us would be (not that we're all that neat ourselves).
Anna's bed usually has little room for her to actually sleep, and she has a full-size mattress. I've found outfits on or in there. A hairbrush or water bottle. Pictures she's drawn, sometimes, a pencil or crayon or two. For the past few years her comforter has been hidden under menagerie of stuffed animals as well as Pillow Pets and Lalaloopsy dolls.
The Lalaloopsy thing started well over a year ago. Like the rest of her family, Anna is a person of rather singular focus. She decides she likes a certain toy, and she goes all out. She'll attempt to collect nearly every item related to that toy, and favors the toy over all others. First, it was My Little Ponies. When we brought her My Little Pony collection to the library to display last year, mouths dropped open. I looked sheepishly at everything we were carrying in and wanted to shout, "We don't spoil our kids! I swear! This is almost exclusively what she's asked for or paid for with allowance for the past two years! Really!"
And so the Lalaloopsy phase began, and at this point we have something like 35 big-headed, small-bodied Lalaloopsy dolls (never mind the miniature ones). Every night, Anna has had to gently push them aside to try to find some room to actually fit her own body on the bed.
"This CAN'T be comfortable," I would tell her, and always get the same reply: "But they're my BABIES! And they help me feel safe."
When we started asking Anna to consistently make her own bed, the Lalaloopsies presented more of a challenge. It's kind of difficult to pull up a sheet and make the bed nice and smooth when there are 35 dolls in the way. Never mind the days when I needed to pull off the sheets to wash them. God forbid I toss them to the floor without thinking.
"You're hurting them!" she would wail. On my less-patient days I admit there were threats to banish the Lalaloopsies to a box, a bin, anywhere where they weren't constantly cluttering up her blankets.
The other morning when I went to wake Anna for school she was sleeping next to a crumpled note she had apparently written the night before. "The Lalaloopsies have decided to move out to the dollhouse," it said. "They want more room. Tomorrow is moving day."
Anna has a dollhouse she begged for one year and never plays with. It basically sits vacant and collects dust and other random objects. I'd told her before it would be a good place for her Lalaloopsies, to no avail.
A few minutes later, she was more awake.
"So they're moving out, huh?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said. "They said there's just not enough room for them to get comfortable."
"I think they'll be really happy in their new house," I said.
"They're excited. But I don't know about nighttime. What if they want to sleep with me?"
"Why don't you choose one for the night? Whichever one behaved best during the day."
Anna liked that idea, and as I left and she got dressed I thought about the note, scribbled in her typical-Anna messy scrawl with numbers of words misspelled. I wondered if the note was for us, but also for her.
I wondered if it was not so much telling us what she wanted to do as much as it was asking a question.
Is it okay, she seemed to be whispering in-between the lines. It is okay to take this little step out of childhood? Is it okay to test the waters and to start to grow up?