It doesn't happen quite as often now that my kids are closer to school age, but it's still not terribly unusual for me to be absorbed in something - reading, making dinner, folding laundry, contemplating my navel lint - and suddenly find some random object being thrust under my nose while a child demands something like, "What is this?" or "Look at this!" or perhaps just grunts wordlessly. The object could be something I've seen before, like a Matchbox car or a puzzle piece, it could be something uncommon but recognizable, like a roly-poly bug or a leaf of some kind, it could be something completely unfamiliar, like a playing piece from a game I didn't know we had or a long-lost food item that had shriveled into near-nonexistence. Or, it could be a naked Barbie bum.
My nearly-5-year-old daughter is fully in the throes of Barbie love. She has a Barbie town house. She has a Barbie boat. She has a Barbie pop-up camper. She has an extensive collection of Barbie dolls. Well, a few of them are true "Barbie" dolls. But most of them have other names. Now, if you do not happen to share a residence with a small, female child, you may not know that some Barbies are not actually "Barbies". Barbies can be Skippers or Francies or Jazzies. "How do I know," you may now be asking, "what my Barbie's real name is?" And that, my friend, is the crux of the Great Barbie Bum Problem.
Each Barbie doll comes with her name carefully written ON HER BUM. But not in large, clear, block printing that a small child can read herself. Oh, no. It is written in small, flesh tone-on-flesh tone, CURSIVE letters.
If you look closely at this photo, you will note several things. 1) The Barbies are not really naked; they are wearing flesh-toned - but patterned, because reading cursive isn't hard enough - underpants. Because modesty is important (at least from the waist down; neither doll is wearing an, ahem, upper undergarment). And 2) The name is written in frilly, loopy, feminine, cursive writing.
So it's written in cursive, what's the big deal?
Here's the big deal: 5-year-olds can't read cursive. Which means that when my daughter is playing with her Barbie dolls, she has to stop every two minutes, drop Barbie's (or in this case, Stacie's or Chelsea's) trou, and shove a bare Barbie bum into my face while asking politely, "What's her name again?"
I can only imagine that her father finds this habit even more disturbing than I do.
I guess I shouldn't complain, though. Her brother is nearly 7, and I shudder to think about the kinds of things he'll be shoving in my face soon.