Her gasp of delight was instant. “Oh! She is so beautiful,” she said, as she cradled the cardboard box in her arms. “Aren’t you, girl?” She looked up at me. “The horse is a girl,” she stated.
“She is. Her name is Tawny and if you give me the box for a second, I can take her out to meet you properly.” I carefully removed the caramel coloured horse from her packaging and handed her to Elizabeth who stroked her shiny white mane with a look of utter devotion on her face.
It’s no secret my girl loves animals. From the baby chicks she cares for to the rabbit she sits and pets for hours, she’s her grandmother’s granddaughter. With their shared curly red hair, their mutual adoration of all creatures, and complete lack of fear when it comes to encountering strange animals, they are two softhearted peas in a fur littered pod.
I watched as Elizabeth carefully set Tawny on the floor and reached for the tiny pink grooming brush from the package. “I think she wants a carrot,” she informed me, as she picked up the plastic carrot and held it to the horse’s mouth. I continued working on getting Barbie out of her box while she chatted with Tawny.
“Mama! Look!” I had to smile when I saw that she’d discovered if you pushed on Tawny’s saddle, Tawny responded by bending her head and nuzzling forward. Finally freeing Barbie, I handed her to Elizabeth who critically studied her outfit. “Hold on.” She handed me the doll and raced from the room leaving me to absently braid Barbie’s hair.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have a lot of money, but we each had one Barbie doll. I created outfits for her out of scraps of fabric and dreamed of one day being as glamorous as the blonde doll I held in my hands. She could be anyone and, I told myself, so could I. I may not be glamorous, but I still believe those Barbie dreams that I can be anyone. Elizabeth ran back out, interrupting my musings. She was wearing her cowboy boots, skinny jeans, and floral shirt. “We’re twins!” she crowed.
I laughed and settled in to play Barbies with my girl. For an hour we weren’t mother and daughter. We were professional horseback rider and horse. Chatter flowed as we brushed the doll’s hair and arranged her on the saddle. I learned about Elizabeth’s best friend in the whole wide world, the girl who was mean to her at school, and the little kindergartner dramas that are so big to our small ones. She solemnly put Barbie’s pink helmet atop the doll’s head informing me, “Safety is important.”
She wants a horse, my girl. She wants a horse, a pig, a cow, a dog, a cat, and at least three goats. She wants a farm filled with the animals she loves and a pink helmet to ride on the back of her own tawny coloured mare. I wish I could give her those things that would fill her little heart with such joy, but as I look around our cottage home, with its tidy but small backyard, I remind myself her imagination is much bigger and with toys like Tawny and her friend Barbie, she’s able to see her dreams.
*This post is sponsored by Mattel.