I packed away my daughter’s dollhouse today.
Sitting on the pink carpeting in her updated “tween”-styled room, I carefully removed tiny pieces of furniture and dusted them before placing them carefully in the box from which I had removed them nearly 9 years ago. Some of the pieces had come from my own dollhouse. Some were new to her. When it came time to pack away the tiny pink china dishes, I felt tears slipping down my face.
She’d once found so much joy in that dollhouse. We’d discovered it on a fluke at a garage sale. I’d planned on building her one, like my parents built mine. But we “renovated” this one instead, together selecting new colors, painting it, adding hardwood flooring, kitchen tile, carpeting and updated wallpaper, and finally decorating it with furniture. Her Lallaloopsy dolls found their home inside those walls. Many were still inside, lounging on dusty chairs and sleeping in the brass bed I treasured once upon a time.
I remember watching her play, moving and speaking for the dolls and creating magical stories only she understood. I remember the many times she asked me to “play people” with her, and we sat down on the floor and imagined together.
The dollhouse, Lallaloopsies and American Girl dolls have been left alone for a year now. I was in Denial for a while. Hopeful that the days of her exploring the extraordinary, captivating widths and depths of her imagination and “playing people” were not over. But, as I removed dusty furniture and dolls, I knew that time had passed. And I was seriously weeping when I carried the dollhouse to the basement and placed the boxed up furniture on a shelf to save for Paige’s children to discover.
I’d been through this once before, as my son transitioned away from his once coveted Webkinz and Club Penguin membership. He packed his childhood toys away himself, though. One day they were in his room; the next they were in a box in the basement. It’s a Toy Story 3 moment — a film I truly cannot watch as I sob every time.
Though endings come and the days of dolls conc, I know I will have new treasured times to share with Paige. No, she won’t climb on my lap and snuggle — she’d crush me if she did! And she won’t ask me to play people or share a tea party with her AG dolls. But, we’ll share tween dramas, iTunes downloads and boy problems, friendship struggles and pointe ballet performances. What’s ahead, I truly don’t know. But, we’ve already shared the fun of picking out a dress and styling her hair for her first middle school dance.
There will be many Sugary moments in the coming days, weeks, months and years. Life is like that. The discomfort of Spice as relationships twist and turn and sometimes fall away is hard to endure. Endings are difficult. Sometimes you don’t see them coming. They sneak up on you, unexpected. One moment you’re immersed in sweet Sugary playtime and experiencing incredible joy. Then, the story changes. You reach the end of a book without realizing it. Some experiences — like childhood — can’t last forever, no matter how many stars we wish upon.
As I packed away Paige’s childhood treasures, a part of me was packed away too. But, having been here before and made it to the other side with an amazing 17-year old soon to graduate and go to college son, I know there’s Hope. My daughter and I have always been close. And though her Tween to Teen years may present a lot of Spice, I know there will be Sugary Joy and Special Memories along the way.
And, for the record, after I cleaned out, vacuumed and dusted her room, I settled down on the floor to change all Paige’s American Girl dolls into Spring dresses and enjoyed a tea party of my own with them …