Danger in suburbia

Greg and I were (and are) determined to raise a daughter who felt capable of pursuing any dream, who might like basketball as much as ballet and be as eager to be a senator as a school teacher. We planned to avoid a lot of overtly gender-specific toys and get the sort of things all kids can enjoy: blocks, play tools, kitchen sets.

Well, Eleanor adores dolls. She even wraps up her stuffed animals and cradles them in her arms. She got a small stroller for Christmas that is just the right size to hold a doll, and she loves it. I’ve started bringing it along on some of our trips out in public because it keeps her occupied and happy.

We took the stroller and one of her babies on a recent outing to the mall. It was a cold day, even by non-Texas standards, so I was looking for a place that we could get a little exercise. We strolled through the mall and then stopped at the children’s play area.

As Eleanor wheeled her stroller into the enclosed space, five little girls came running over. They surrounded us. Each stood about a foot from the stroller. They might have been only three feet tall, but they looked fierce, I tell you. Eleanor eyed them warily, unsure whether she should hold her ground or make a run for it. She ran. But the other girls quickly caught up and tried to pull the stroller from her grasp.

Eleanor decided that she would rather climb on the slide than fend off the wolf pack, so she gave the stroller to me. Initially, I let some of the girls borrow it. But they kept fighting over it, so I grabbed it back and spent the next 20 minutes nudging them away.

Most people move to our neighborhood because it’s so kid-friendly. But it’s a terrible place to be raising a doll.