Thursday, September 27, 2007

Don't Mess With My Barbie

"Uh Oh!" I thought, as Ian, Priscilla's four year old grandson, strolled into my office and hopped up onto one of my heavy wooden chairs As he sat there swinging his skinny legs freely beneath the seat, he looked over my assortment of Navajo collectibles on the shelves above his shaved head. I continued typing, answering e-mail, in hopes Ian would not ask about the toys again. Not a chance, Ian cannot tolerate unopened packages. He focused on my Navajo GI Joe, Barbie and Adam Beech Windtalker dolls, and started in on his favorite subject.

Ian in Barry's office
Ian at Twin Rocks Trading Post

"Why do you have toys you never play with?" asked Ian. "Go away kid!" I said jokingly, "Ya bother me." Ian was not in the mood for humor; he felt rebuffed and struck back accordingly. "Those are cheap toys," he said, hopping down from the chair and leaving the room. Watching him stomp away in anger made me regret not explaining the difference between collectibles in mint condition and used toys. Shortly thereafter the school bus came for Ian, leaving me feeling badly about the encounter.

After Ian left, a young Danish family came into the trading post and began looking at the store displays. The parents were probably thirty-something years of age, the little boy maybe five and the girl three. They all spoke English fairly well, and we fell into easy conversation.

I noticed the little girl was packing around a Barbie doll. I could tell the doll was well loved, because its clothes were tattered and soiled, and its hair stuck out in all directions. I spoke with the little girl about the doll, telling her that I too had a Barbie. "Nuh Uh," she said after looking me over carefully. "I do," I assured her; "I have a Navajo Barbie doll." The child just stared at me in disbelief, so I walked into my office and pulled the doll from the shelf.

Arriving back at the counter, I carefully showed the little girl the box with the untouched Navajo Barbie displayed behind cellophane. Her eyes grew to twice their normal size as she reached for the box. "She's beautiful!" said the little girl as she fingered the plastic. Then, without warning, she tried to open the packaging. The child's mother anticipated the move and took control of the box before any damage was done.

Navajo Barbie Doll

"I just wanted to touch her," complained the little girl, "I wouldn't hurt her." I thought back to what Ian had said about me not ever playing with the toys and thought, "What the heck?" I took the box and cut the tape off either side, then, oh so gently, removed the lid. I handed the open box to the little girl, she smiled brightly and handed me her doll before taking the box and looking upon the now exposed Navajo Barbie.

The child breathed deeply and looked at me once more to make sure it was all right. I nodded to the girl and her mother, signaling that it was okay. The youth reached into the box and touched the doll's earrings, pin, necklace and concho belt. She fingered the velveteen blouse, the rug-like shawl and Barbie's flowered skirt. "She's beautiful!" she said, again stroking the doll's jet black hair. "See, I didn't hurt her," said the child as she handed back the box. "No you didn't," I said handing back her own well loved toy, "You treated her very well."

The family departed, and left me in a good mood. As they made their way out the door, the little girl waved at me with the hand holding her Barbie, and said "Thank you!" "You take good care of that Barbie" I said. "I will" she replied, "You take care of yours too." "I will." I said, and thought to myself, "It's a greater treasure now than it ever was before; thanks to Ian.''

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and the Team.

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