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Guest opinion: Right way and wrong way to play Barbies

By Anneli Byrd - Special to the Standard-Examiner | May 20, 2022

Photo supplied

Anneli Byrd

My husband, Dave, and I have mixed feelings about Barbie. On the one hand, when our daughter, Catherine, was little, we had a significant fortune tied up in Barbie and her clothes and her house and her friends and all of her accessories, so we felt that Catherine had darn well better play with all the stuff. On the other hand, she would often coerce one of us into playing with her, and when the game started it never, and I mean never, ended. Whatever Barbie was doing took meticulous planning. Hours and hours and hours of planning. Barbie has been known to take her living room sofa and evening gown collection on a wilderness camping trip, and this takes considerable arranging.

Perhaps then, it isn’t surprising that Dave would sometimes snap. (Dave claims that I would snap too, but that’s hardly relevant). Anyway, I walked in on them playing school one day. Catherine was controlling Barbie, the teacher, and also controlling the students. Dave had been assigned the role of the principal.

Catherine: “Now class, you write ‘cat’ C-A- …”

Enter Dave with Becky Barbie: “Hi, class! I’m Principal Good Looking!”

Catherine: “That’s not your name!”

Dave: “It is too! What do you think of my outfit, class? Do you think my purse matches my …”

Catherine: “Daaaaadddddeeeeee!”

Dave: “Shh! The principal is talking!”

Catherine: “That’s not what a principal says!”

Dave: “Sure it is. What do you think, class? I picked out this blouse to go with …”

Catherine: “Go away, principal!”

The teacher starts shoving the principal out the door.

Dave: “Ouch! You can’t shove me!”

Catherine: “Go away!”

Dave” “Hey! I can fire you, you know!”

Catherine gives Dave a mighty shove and Principal Good Looking stalks away in a huff. Class continues peacefully until …

Dave: “Hi there! It’s me again! Principal Good Looking!”

Catherine rolls her eyes.

Dave: “Look! I’m wearing an emerald evening gown. Can you say ’emerald evening gown,’ class? See? I have a matching hairpiece, and a boa and purple tennis shoes.”

Catherine: “That’s not what principals wear!”

Dave: “Well! I know the shoes don’t match. Ken keeps losing my evening pumps and …”

Catherine: “AAAAAAA!!!!!! Out! Out! Out!”

She attacks.

Dave: “You can’t do that! Ouch! That’s it! You’re fired!”

Catherine: “It’s my school! You’re fired!”

Dave: “Am not!”

Catherine: “Are too!”

She flings herself at Dave, who starts a tickle war. The school is wrecked. The children flee. The principal’s hair is mussed.

Some weeks later, I came home from work.

“Hi guys, what are you up to?”

Dave, distinctly glassy eyed, replies, “I’m playing Barbies. I have always been sitting here playing Barbies. I will always sit here playing Barbies. It is my destiny.”

Catherine: “Mommy, Daddy’s not playing right.”

Me: “What’s he done this time?”

Catherine: “He says the elevator got dropped on Kelli!”

Dave: “Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s right! Was it Cinderella Barbie in a fit of jealous rage? Did Steve finally snap because he’s not as famous as Ken? Was it a conspiracy of the non-Barbie dolls? I, Detective Daddy, am on the case!”

Catherine: “Mommmmmmeeeeeee!”

Me: “Don’t worry, sweetie. Daddy’s just lost his mind, that’s all.”

Catherine, dubiously: “Will he be normal later?”

I glance back at Dave who has continued playing on his own. Ken seems to be dragging Steve off to prison by his feet, and Barbie is distressed about Steve, and also because she’s unsure which skirt to wear to a hearing.

Me: “Well, as normal as he gets.”

Anneli Byrd is an academic adviser in Weber State University’s Student Success Center.

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