Tag Archives: Barbie dolls

Still Crazy (for Barbie) After All These Years

Barbie is 52 today. She’s no spring chicken, as my great-grandmother would likely say. Nevertheless, the 11.5 inch cultural icon has weathered well, having been recognized as one of Mattel’s best-selling toys for decades—some estimates indicating that more than a billion dolls (three every second) have been sold worldwide. That said, Barbie made her grand debut on this day in 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York—wearing her signature ponytail (available in blonde or brunette) and a racy, zebra-inspired swimsuit. Clearly, she was a rebel before her time—one responsible for fueling not only imagination and independence among little girls everywhere, but for spawning a wealth of controversy and lawsuits as well.

Barbie had rather prominent breasts after all, wore a demure sideways glance originally and promoted an unrealistic body image—one that would correspond to a 5’ 9” woman with a 36-inch bosom, an 18-inch waist (gasp!) and 33-inch hips. Her perfectly painted-on smile and shapely legs simply added to the concerns raised by many (i.e. since she was viewed as a role model, young girls would perhaps become anorexic in an attempt to emulate her impossibly slender physique). Stirring further discontent, “Barbie Baby-Sits” (1963) and the “Slumber Party” ensemble (1965) came with a book entitled How to Lose Weight which dispensed advice such as “Don’t eat.” Eventually, in 1997 the toy giant addressed the aforementioned criticisms by outfitting Barbie with a wider, more contemporary, waistline—but nary an ungainly, flat-chested, bucktoothed Barbie will you find anywhere, my dear Mattel.

Despite it all, we’re still crazy for Barbie in all her buxom career-minded glory—both conventional (think: nurse) and infinitely obscure (think: paratrooper). And let us not forget her endearing gaggle of plastic companions, the glut of branded whateverness spilling from store shelves hither and yon and the pretty pink houses without which Barbie enthusiasts would surely wither and die.

I mean who can be properly amused by said lithesome beauties (upon which a shock of hair-like matter seemingly “grows”) without the requisite 67 pairs of stilettos, 43 hats and a wardrobe whose mix ‘n match permutation potential is decidedly incalculable? Never mind pink cars. And pink boats. And swimming pools perfectly imbued with pink rafts. Just for fun, sometime I’d like to amass (into a hideous heap!) all the Barbie-related foolishness with which my daughters have been blessed over the years. I’m quite certain it would be an impressive and distinctly pink pile; however I doubt it would change the spending habits in this house-turned-shrine-to-all-things-Barbie.

Besides, a great portion of the aforementioned huddled masses with whom Thing One and Thing Two routinely play fall under the category of recycled, having entertained their big sister more than a decade ago. And as luck would have it, some were graciously bestowed upon my progenies as gifts. It’s rumored that a handful of the dolls were even mine, although I had great difficulty convincing a certain couple of somebodies that that was even possible. (i.e. “Did they even MAKE Barbie dolls back then, Mom?”)

That said, it’s not as if we’ve had to shell out a ton of cash to acquire the legions of plastic wonders we now own, which, I suppose, makes the whole we-have-too-many-damned-dolls thing seem somewhat tolerable. Nor do we possess Barbie Video Girl, Totally Tattoos Barbie or Teen Talk Barbie—which gladdens my heart more than words can adequately express.

Oddly enough, though, my charges aren’t overly interested in the bells and whistles so many of today’s dolls feature. Nor do they give a hoot about what their beloved Barbies wear or whether or not their bizarrely angled feet happen to have shoes, let alone ones that match. Forget what the avid collectors may opine. Mint condition means nothing to my brood. If anything, it is the doll with unkempt hair to which they are drawn—or the one whose unruly mane was hacked off with scissors when they were four, or the blondie with missing face paint, now sporting a deficient, yet endearing little smile, or the one with chipped plastic and mottled skin, having been abandoned in the garage (or a snowbank) for months. Curiously, it’s as if their dilapidated qualities add charm and character beyond measure.

Furthermore, Thing One and Thing Two are fairly enthralled with the dismembered populace of our sprawling Barbie community. Apparently, it matters not that they possess an intact set of limbs (or a head for that matter). “They’re still fun to play with, Mom—even without heads.” Translation: My children are disturbingly droll and I am doomed to forever share my home with their dear playthings.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (with an obscene quantity of Barbie dolls).

Copyright 2011 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Home for Wayward Toys, The Natives are Decidedly Restless

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Please believe me, oh great giver-of-gifts, I know you love my children dearly and that you’d do almost anything to make them happy this Christmas. You’re a kind and generous soul. And make no mistake about it; I’ve recognized (with the help of countless reminders) how hard my heathens have tried to be good and grateful and well-mannered these past 351 days. But in the interest of preserving what remains of my sanity, would you please give some consideration to the following bit of information?

1)    For the record, I don’t need any lizards or llamas, bats or birds, real live chicks or even eggs that will hatch. Nor do I have any desire whatsoever for an ant farm and an accompanying anteater (“…in case it breaks open and ants are crawling EVERYWHERE, Mom!”). Furthermore, I have absolutely no use for a potbellied pig or a goat for that matter. Are we perfectly clear on that? NO POTBELLIED PIG. NO GOAT. Period. Also, please ignore all future requests—maddeningly incessant as they might be—for another cat. Seriously. Perish the thought.

2)    Additionally, please take note: it is totally unnecessary to spoil my charges by spending $54 (EACH!) on flimsy pajamas that happen to match those worn by the very dolls they begged for last year. That’s simply ludicrous. Get a grip, Santa. Give Mrs. Claus a new nightie or something instead.

3)    Moreover, bear in mind that I have yet to summon the strength necessary to parent those who thirst for danger. More specifically, those who would willfully and gleefully ride a skateboard, a motorcycle or roller skates down an impossibly sheer slope. Blindfolded. On fire. During an earthquake. I have enough trouble tolerating the wretched scooters they so adore. Perhaps by next year I will have purged from memory my own horrific skateboarding disaster (i.e. the face plant I made one summer afternoon on a gravelly patch of pavement at an inordinately high rate of speed). But who could forget eight stitches? They were purple. And stubbly. And infinitely intriguing to all my friends who wanted to touch the freakish goatee I had seemingly sprouted from my chin. That being said, please refrain from delivering any of the aforementioned instruments of evil.

4)    Bratz, begone! I trust this emphatic petition is self-explanatory, oh Jolly One. Barbies, by contrast, are perfectly acceptable in this household. Besides, I find it largely disturbing that many among our sprawling Barbie community have lost heads and limbs for whatever reason. Intactness would be a welcome change.

5)    Also, if you must darken my door with all-that-makes-noise (I mean music), I beg of you that each sinful device (read: trumpet-kazoo-recorder-drum-keyboard-microphone-guitar-tambourine-maraca-like piece of idiocy) be suitably equipped with soundproofing, some sort of on/off switch or at the very least a volume control thingy. Thank you, in advance.

6)    Also, kindly be advised that my humble abode lacks the space necessary to house the grand and glorious, five-story kitty hotel that my kids have been whining about since the middle of summer. Honestly, it is outlandishly opulent, highly impractical and offensively massive. If you so much as think about bestowing such a monstrosity upon us, I will have no choice but to forego the cookies next year. You can count on broccoli instead, you silly little elfin man.

7)    What’s more, I would be immeasurably displeased to discover a pile of pretend dog poop in anyone’s stocking, never mind those repugnant Walter the Farting Dog creatures. Egads!

8)    Furthermore, Santa, read my lips: NO MORE SILLY@$$ ELECTRONIC GADGETRY. I am appallingly inept when it comes to programming any and all gizmos of a technological nature. I hereby resign from said post effective today.

9)    And for the love of God, NO MORE WATER BALLOONS, GLITTER GLUE OR BATHTUB TOYS. They are the bane of my existence. Enough said.

10) And sweet Jesus, please, please, please don’t bless us with another puppy this Christmas—at least not one that routinely gnaws on furniture, pees indiscriminately, consumes chew toys, destroys leashes (four and counting), eats holes in the carpet, nibbles on Frisbees, plastic Army men and Barbie stilettos, considers deer droppings a delicacy and is entirely bent on causing bodily harm during jaunts in the great outdoors—via our garrote-like tether coupled with a frenzied demeanor and the pirouette dance I have grown to know and loathe. I simply cannot handle another floppy-eared bundle of joy. Not now. Not ever.

11) I would, however, be thrilled to receive an indestructible dog leash dipped in Kevlar, perhaps, and maybe a ridiculously huge cardboard box. Empty, of course. The one you so graciously left for my brood three years ago was far and away the most fabulous item under the tree. It was the gift that kept on giving—till early spring, as I recall.

Sincerely,

Planet Mom

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Cat Chronicles, Doggie Diamonds, Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, Normal is Relative, Rantings & Ravings, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

I Am Still Thankful

It’s Thanksgiving Day and while it’s true I burned the pumpkin pie, the dog whizzed on the floor and the kids refused to wear their fancy-schmancy clothes (despite a number of shameless bribes and idle threats), I am still thankful. Never mind that Thing One wouldn’t eat the turkey over which I had slaved for an eternity, or that Thing Two had an epic meltdown over kitty litter (don’t ask), or that our oldest neglected to text after driving TWO STATES AWAY to visit her dear boyfriend.

I am still thankful.

However, the gods of inclement weather made it snow, then sleet, then rain—which, in turn, wreaked havoc with our highways and byways, making it impossible for my parents to join us for the mother of all feasts—the one I volunteered to prepare in spite of my vastly deficient culinary skills. Our gathering would have to wait.

But I am still thankful.

Furthermore, the 16-hour day in question prompted an abundance of bickering matches among our 9-year-old warring factions, left my husband and me desperate for the suggestion of a nap and initiated a marathon clutter fest involving a disturbing array of candy wrappers and headless Barbie dolls. What’s more, our brood made roughly 63 excursions into the great outdoors (i.e. the snow/sleet/rain whateverness) which then inspired the aforementioned waifs to smuggle snowballs into our home as well as festoon the place with massive quantities of sodden clothing. Again. And again. Ugh.

I suppose it’s days like these—the square ones that fail to fit into the round holes of my so-called master plan—that remind me I have far less control over my life than I’d like to think. Of course, this makes me slightly neurotic given my control freak proclivity. But such is life.

And I am still thankful.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (still giving thanks).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Holiday Hokum, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Me Myself and I, The Natives are Decidedly Restless, The Woman-Child

Lipstick on a Pig

Today is Election Day and I am reminded, yet again, of the political poop that surrounds us. That said, it seems like only yesterday that the idiocy I am about to describe occurred.

Once again, the silly season is upon us and much of the voting public is consumed with all-that-is-political—namely, the dirt. As predicted, the media has succeeded in joining the fracas, muddying the waters by capitalizing on our inability to filter out the noise and by feeding our insatiable desire for entertainment. In sum, those self-serving spin-factories have made something of nothing yet again (i.e. an offhanded comment about slathering some swine with lipstick mushroomed into a circus-like event last week, causing an uproar which served to detract from the vat of filth that would ordinarily command our collective attention).

Naturally, the nothing (which is now officially something) was plastered everywhere imaginable—on the Internet, on my television screen, in my newspaper, in my car…across my kitchen table (Gasp!). Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

Most of my displeasure centered around the thoughtless nature (read: evil-spirited glee) with which newscasters delivered the juicy sound bites day and night—fueling the fire that would surely lead to mayhem in homes everywhere. Homes in which impressionable youths reside—the ones who would willingly (and oh-so-joyfully) embrace the notion of putting lipstick on a pig—or anything else, for that matter. As if my kids needed that gem of a seed planted firmly in their twisted little minds! “A PIG! What a marvelous creature to festoon with lipstick!” they likely pondered upon hearing it—scheming and dreaming of how such a clever ploy might be acted upon.

Good grief. Those tactless twits may as well have suggested flushing a bar of soap down the toilet (like my brother did!), putting rocks in the dryer or hiding a gallon of milk in the bowels of a closet—all completely absurd (yet infinitely viable) possibilities that exist among the gamut of that-which-is-downright-naughty.

That being said, my heathens have painted nearly every surface imaginable with (among other things) lipstick. Pink and purplish hues, more specifically, harvested from a make-up kit that I (in a moment of great weakness) purchased for them. Thus far, hapless targets have included the dog, our cats, their dolls, bears and Beanie Babies “…to make them more beautiful, Mommy, so they can get married.” Of course, I resisted the urge to inform, “A dab of lipstick does not a beautiful bride make,” tabling it for a later discussion. No doubt, at some point I’ll also be charged with explaining the infamous hockey-mom/pit bull commentary to my daughters as well as demystifying terms like glass ceilings and penis envy.

Joy.

As an added bonus (thank you very little), all this newsy-schmoozy foolishness regarding lipstick and whatnot has unearthed a bit of ugliness for which I am truly ashamed. Said mommy meltdown (which occurred several years ago and involved mass quantities of lip gloss, rouge and enraged shrieking) easily qualified as one of those utterly hideous events I’d prefer to put behind me. Forever.

Needless to say, it was not my finest hour when I happened upon my wily charges merrily decorating furniture, stuffed animals, mirrors and their entire bodies with the aforementioned sinful materials. I later learned that there was a method to their madness: the lions needed to wed (see paragraph five), certain penguins needed pink underpants, a select group of dinosaurs needed purple slippers, and because they had barricaded themselves in their bedroom and their hands were too slippery to turn the doorknob, they wiped all the glimmery, glammory gunk on their dressers and smeared it deep into the carpet fibers, careful to try and match the colors of the gunk with the colors of the rug. “How brilliant!” I should have recognized—only I didn’t view it as such then.

Up until that point in my parenting career, I didn’t know one could injure one’s throat by screaming. Nor did I expect the solid walnut slab of wood I slugged in my fit of rage to be more solid than the knuckles of my right hand.

However, I didn’t need X-rays to prove my idiocy. That was painfully clear. Even still, I am reminded of it each time I glance at my mismatched hands, one being a tad lumpier in the knuckle department than the other—now and forever. To add insult to injury, however, I had to hear, “Yep, it’s probably broken—but it’s too late to do anything,” from my friend, Drew, who also happens to be a doctor. “Ice should help,” he advised.

Perhaps you can put ice on an idiot. But it’s still an idiot.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "S" is for Shame, Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Me Myself and I, Political Poop, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Is There a Doctor in the House? (Continuation of “Guilty as Sin”)

Doogie Houser, MD would have been proud. From the moment Seek and Destroy laid eyes on their beloved Ken doll, helplessly sprawled out on the living room floor, our resident whiz kids snapped into action—eager to render what assistance they could in the face of such a crippling tragedy. It was a sight to behold and the epitome of teamwork. For what seemed like forever that morning, our prodigious sensations delved into the guts and gore like fearless surgeons of the 4077th M.A.S.H. unit. They were miniature paramedics—a sippy-cup-toting trauma unit with a penchant for Teddy Grahams.

Ken needed a trauma unit. He was Code Blue—thanks to me. Never mind the fact that he was a plastic doll I had inadvertently maimed the night before. It was a life or death situation—sort of. Even the next of kin—the entire Barbie gaggle—had been immediately notified of his condition. This, of course, meant that the weeping and wailing might never end. What a maudlin crew. Bunch of sissies, anyway.

The official report: Ken’s perfectly sculpted (and impeccably tanned) synthetic leg had been completely severed from the hip down. A gaping hole in the pelvis region revealed even more damage—a broken plastic hinge thingy. Translation: Ken’s pelvic thrusting days were probably over. Jogging with Skipper was out of the question, too—unless he had a miracle up his surfer shorts. His prognosis couldn’t have been much worse—unless he had been run over by a freight train full of whining pre-menopausal Barbies. Needless to say, the outlook was grim.

Doctor kits, loaded with all sorts of important-looking (albeit worn and duct-taped) equipment, were hurriedly pried from toy boxes and rushed to the scene. Initial assessments were made, Hippocratic Oaths were uttered and the patient was gingerly transported to a makeshift operating table—an overstuffed footstool. Orders were barked to a team of imaginary nurses and various instruments were splayed out in preparation for the surgery that was sure to run into the night.

In the meantime, I ran for the video camera. To seize the opportunity, of course. I know real drama when I see it. Plus, such a pioneering moment in medical history begged to be recorded for the benefit of all posterity. It was my civic duty to film history in the making.

Truth be told, I was certain I wouldn’t be able to recreate the utter hilarity for anyone once it was over. It was simply too funny for words. I had to film it. So film it I did.

“Nurse, take his blood pressure! (Shoop, shoop, shoop….) Take his temperature! (Shake, shake, shake….) Give him a shot of this stuff! (Pffssssssshhhttt!) DOCTOR, WE NEED SOME GLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUE! Something to make his leg STICK BACK ON! Oh. My. Goodness. I left my glue at the other office. What will we do now!?”

“Well Doctor, I think we need to hammer this leg a little.” (Hammer, hammer, hammer…twist, yank, prod, crank, SNAP, CRACKLE, POP!!!) “And we need a cast thingy! Right away!”

All the while, stethoscopes, syringes and imaginary glue guns flew across the OR, passed from hand to hand in a desperate attempt to save poor old Ken’s plastic-coated soul. The tension was unbearable. The wait, nerve-racking. Thankfully in the end, Ken pulled through; but despite their undying efforts, the medical wonders were unable to successfully reattach his leg.

Not to worry. The celebrated masters of make-believe have since made the best of the situation—illustrating for the 327th time this week that even a nonfunctional and seemingly worthless item/toy (and I’d daresay a particularly gruesome one at that) can become purposeful once again—providing countless hours of enjoyment.

Or sheer bliss.

Apparently, the practice of terrorizing one another with said severed limb (which includes tearing through the house at warp speed, screaming like a couple of banshees) is nearly as fun as playing with good ol’ two-legged Kensey-poo and his estrogenized harem. Almost.

It’s macabre, I know. But delightfully so methinks.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Kid-Speak, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Guilty as Sin

I felt terrible. Horrible. Guilty as sin. Responsible for a wicked and truly deplorable deed. A gruesome atrocity. Perhaps one of the worst in my ill-famed toy-wrecking career.

The victim: Ken (as in Barbie’s Ken). Mr. Mattel himself. Of course, there have been others that have gone before him—abused and slaughtered in cold plastic, at the hands of a madwoman bent on “cleansing and purging” the existing toy-scape. Secretly disposed of in a horrifically callous manner; their lifeless, twisted bodies and assorted appendages wedged and crammed in among spongy tomatoes and moldy cheese. Tuesday’s trash.

I don’t know what drives me to do it—to clandestinely rid my home of dilapidated Barbie dolls and other playthings that annoy the hell out of me.

They just push my buttons, I guess—the Barbies especially—scads of them littered across my living room floor, lounging around like they own the place, mocking me with their perfect little painted-on smiles. They don’t even dress half the time.

Heathens.

Maybe I need therapy. Something to help me cope with feeling as if I am suffocating beneath a mountain of toys, many of which happen to be those blasted Barbie dolls. Perhaps I should peruse the Yellow Pages for available services (like Inundated and Lovin’ It!).

The circumstances surrounding Ken’s grave injuries were quite unlike those surrounding all the others’. There was no motive. No anger. No fit of uncontrollable rage. I didn’t even curse—except for after the fact. Honestly, I had absolutely no intention of causing good ol’ hand-me-down Kensey-poo any undue harm when late one evening I lobbed him in the vicinity of his home in the drawer—where he would sleep for the night. Good grief; he had been a part of our family since my oldest was still undressing him—six years ago! It’s obvious, however, that I had caused irreversible and unconscionable damage. I’ll be the first to admit it.

No one on earth could have been more surprised to discover the severity of Ken’s condition, following what I considered to be a modest mid-air excursion—a mere puddle-jump. It was the length of our coffee table. Not an inch more. I swear. And it was an easy, underhanded pitch, a toss really—in marked contrast to the more typical frenzy-induced toy-launchings I so enjoy.

Imagine my utter shock—the abject horror—when I learned of Ken’s fate. His entire left leg, from hips to toes, was completely DETACHED from his body. It laid there next to him. Askew on the carpet. A separate entity. I felt as though it might come to life at any moment and hop around the room on its own. Strange but true.

The guilt I felt was beyond comprehension. The girls were sleeping peacefully upstairs, likely dreaming of all the skirts and stilettos with which they’d adorn Ken the next day. (What can I say—they’re easily amused). How would they handle his dismemberment? His lifelong handicap? The depression that would surely follow?

Perhaps we could get a group rate on therapy. The girls, Ken and myself, of course.

To be continued….

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2006 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Home for Wayward Toys, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction

Bare-naked Ladies

Walk through any home where children reside and you’ll find them.

Naked Barbie dolls, that is. Ken, too.

Piled haphazardly, standing at perfect attention or stuffed inside a Barbie Dream House with nothing but bare feet and legs protruding from the dormer windows—that’s where they’ll be. They have but one thing in common—nakedness.

I find this observable fact rather amusing—and curious. Why do they do it? Why do our children strip them completely bare with not so much as a pair of pink, plastic stilettos to dignify them? Even G.I. Joe’s dog tags often wind up missing in action. Our kids beg and plead for those prized accessories, but when it comes to serious make-believe, they clearly play second fiddle.

How do we know this?

The moment we leave the store, our impetuous charges tear into the packages, rip off the clothing and begin the important ritual of inspection, as if every rubbery, synthetic toe and ear lobe must be accounted for. At home, the scrutiny only intensifies. In a less-than-gentle manner, they twist, bend and contort the latest Barbie clan member as if it must pass some sort of torturous muster.

Then the real drama begins.

It’s time to make them talk—to each other, of course. Or to themselves—a rudimentary soliloquy of sorts. I have to admit, listening to such “conversations” is one of my favorite things about being a parent. It’s like spying, but legal in all 50 states. And it’s true; kids do say the damnedest things. Many of which occur during Barbie powwows.

As if the issue of nudity isn’t enough, in our household the existing toyscape is even more bizarre. Not only are the dolls here naked as jaybirds, some are also missing limbs and a couple have no heads. Granted, this does lend itself to highly animated doctor play since these particular Barbies are in dire need of medical attention.

Or a trauma unit.

It’s amazing to me how children can be mesmerized by toys that are rife with imperfections—like blatantly obvious deficiencies in the appendage department. I suppose it’s no different today than during my own childhood though. My fascination never waned even though many of my little green army men (my brother’s, actually) had been gnawed beyond recognition by our dog.

Clearly, active combat was to blame.

Even at that age, I knew all was fair in love and war—even savagely cruel helmet nibbling. It went with the territory.

Apparently, naked Barbie dolls serve a similar purpose. They are part and parcel of nearly every child’s active imagination.

The jury is still out, however, on the missing head/limb variety.

Planet Mom. It’s where I live.

Copyright 2007 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Daily Chaos, Kid-Speak, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction