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The 5 agonizing stages of playing dolls with your kids

Meredith Bland is a freelance writer whose work has appeared on Time.com, Brain, Mother, The Rumpus, Scary Mommy and Narratively, among others.

It's OK to say you hate playing dolls with your daughter

Many mothers loved playing with dolls when we were little and looked forward to the day when we would be able to do the same with our child. Unfortunately, some of us may have gone enthusiastically into that parent-child bonding activity only to learn that we hate it.

Hate. It. Here are the five stages of doll-playing grief.

1. Denial

Your child wants to play dolls with you. You're excited to hear what their little minds come up with and to share this moment that may be one they will always remember. You can just see your child as an adult saying, "I loved playing dolls with my mom when I was a kid. She was so smart and cool. And super hot." So what if you haven't played a game involving imagination and pretend in 30 years? How hard can this be? We are going to have so much fun.

2. Anger

We are not having fun. First of all, what the hell are these dolls that look like vampire hookers? Are we playing "going to the club"? Is today's game about keeping Tiffany from getting roofied? Thank you, but no.

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You also might get stuck with those soft little baby dolls, and there is little to no action that can take place with babies. Your babies aren't going to pretend to travel around the world or go to work — they can't even pretend to go for a walk because babies can't do anything. It's difficult to work when your imagination is being stifled this way.

It turns out that playing dolls is like going out to lunch with someone you don't know very well and learning that you have nothing to talk about.

Your doll: "Hey, why don't we go to the grocery store?"

Child's doll: "No, we just went yesterday."

Your doll: "Oh. OK."

*Crickets*

How do other dolls spend their time together? And why is it so hard to think of things for fake people to talk about? All your kid does most days is talk, and now is when they run out of nonsensical ideas? This is some b.s.

3. Bargaining

Eventually, you have to think of a way to make playing with dolls more tolerable. What if your child plays with them over there, and you sit on the couch and just provide the voice from time to time? Or what if your child plays the mommy/teacher/person in charge, and you can just respond to what they tell you to do? Or perhaps your doll is a deaf illiterate narcoleptic mute who hasn't learned sign language yet?

It's time to learn about the art of compromise, kiddo.

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4. Depression

Let's just face facts here — you're terrible at playing with dolls. You have no imagination and are no fun whatsoever. Your child will look back at these times and sob to their therapist about how mom rarely played dolls with them and when she did she usually suggested that your dolls take a nap or go see a movie.

You are ruining their childhood. What kind of parent doesn't want to play make-believe with her kids? Those moms in the frozen-food commercials seem to love the heck out of playing with their kids, so what's wrong with you?

You are a terrible, terrible mother.

5. Acceptance

On the other hand, you do love your kids a whole lot, and you do a lot of other things with them. Do you need to be responsible for entertaining them every time they ask you to? Kids used to do chores on family farms all day long or come home late at night after putting in long hours at the factory — there's no way that their moms were gung-ho about playing "I'm going to be the baby that vomits on the mommy and you're going to be the mommy who gets mad" every day. Besides, this is just a single bullet point on what is a very long and detailed job description; once you fulfill the main requirements of food, shelter and love, then playing with dolls becomes more of an optional add-on task than a necessity.

Well, that all sounds acceptable. Make sure to run it by your boss after she gets done licking the furniture.

More: I'm that mom buying $100 dolls for her kids, and I'm not ashamed

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