I don’t shop for myself anymore. I remember during my first several years of teaching, online shopping and searching out the newest gadget was a daily habit after opening my computer. It was looking up on the newest style of shoes, or newest tech toy to purchase. I even splurged on learning and buying a motorcycle on a whim! I must admit though, I had a small sneaker obsession after spending a year in Hong Kong where sneakers were as common as the local Starbucks on the street. You can indulge yourself in all flavors, styles, colours, and brands of shoes at any of the big or small malls. Heck, there is even a “sneak street” in Hong Kong where the entire street is dedicated to selling sneakers. But today, it dawned on me that I have not purchased a new pair of shoes for a very long time. My current shoes are these red Adidas running shoes that I got 3 years ago that were strictly used for running. But since my other shoes have slowly deteriorated with time, I wear these running shoes as my daily shoes even if they have been drenched in sweat, rain, and mud. So you must be thinking that I must have saved an enormous amount of money for not splurging on monthly sneakers. The answer is no. As I sat here and opened up my laptop. I realized that the most common item that I visit are these L.O.L Surprise dolls that my daughter, Abby, absolutely adores. Now that the 2nd daughter has followed suit, our house is now littered with these L.O.L Surprise dolls and their tiny accessories. When looking from an outside perspective, these L.O.L Surprise dolls might be deemed as these expensive, impractical, and silly plastic dolls, and you might be right. These dolls are cleverly marketed and designed to cater to young girls and even to their parents such as myself. They come in these plastic balls where you open to find your ‘surprise’ doll. Every series has a number of dolls that varies with rarity. The majority of the dolls in a set are commonly found, while there are some that are rare, and the more exclusive ones are ultra rare. As a person who grew up in collecting hockey cards, the element of surprise compounded by the fact that there are dolls that are harder to find makes the surprise even more enticing. Perhaps this is one of the primary reasons why I am ok with my daughters playing with these. 

But the other reason is that I am slowly realizing that Abby is indeed growing up. And as cliche as it sounds, time does go by fast, and your kids grow up in a blink of an eye. It seemed like it was just yesterday that I was driving around the neighborhood at 3 in the morning to try to get her to sleep. What triggered this epiphany was when we had lunch at the food court at the outlet mall the other day. When Erica went to order us lunch, two prepubescent teenage girls walked and sat within a couple tables from us. These two girls, who are probably no more than 9-11 years old, had their hair done, training bra, mild make up, designer tight fitting jeans, and a set of polished white sneakers talking on their cell phones. I must be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the way they were dressed, but it was the gaze that Abby had on them that I realized that my little girl is growing up.  Abby’s gaze was one of wonderment, admiration, and in awe. I watched her stare at the two girls in this trance form of amazement. She wanted to dress like them, be like them, and hang out with them. That was the moment when I realized that my role as the cool dad will one day fade. I know I am still the cool dad because she still runs up to and jumps with excitement when I come home from work. I know I am still the dad that she still wants to play with. But as hard as it was for me to watch, I watched her, in her cute Niagara Falls t-shirt that we got during our trip last year along with her L.O.L doll laid carefully on the table, slowly transforming into a maturing, and  independent girl. 

So, as much as these L.O.L dolls are pricey, silly, and impractical, I will still buy them, and almost spoil her with them because these L.O.L Surprise dolls allow me to temporary pause time, even only for a short bit, so that I can still use these dolls as a way to keep her by my side, as her dad. Because I know, as time is inevitable, that someday, these dolls are another bygone, and that I may be replaced by her friends with nice polished white sneakers.