For Ying’s fifth birthday, our parents bought her a Power Wheels Barbie Beach Patrol. It was a white jeep with bright pink wheels, a pink steering wheel, and a phone where you could press a button and talk to (and hear responses from) Barbie. It could seat two, if you were both five years old. It cost $250, so it was the only present she got that year. It was also the most money our parents had ever spent on a toy.
Ying couldn’t wait to take it home, drive it around the neighborhood, make a splash with the other little girls in her social set. The only problem was, the giant honking battery under the hood had to charge for 24 hours. So when we finally take it out of the garage for the first drive, anticipation is high. We drag it out to the street, Ying gets in, she’s playing around with the steering wheel, and then she puts her foot down on the pedal and with a jerky, high-pitched whine of the battery, she just takes off.
So we live on a cul-de-sac and mom and I are following Ying as she’s tooling down the street, taking a few tries to make the turn at the end, and coming back up. And she is having the time of her life, as only five-year-olds can. She’s posing for pictures, talking on the phone—I can see her smile from all the way down the street. And then mom turns to me and goes, “You should take it for a drive.” I look at her. I am 12 years old. I may still play Barbies with my sister, but I am not interested in driving a Barbie Power Wheels jeep down the street. In public. Continue reading