Raised on Promises

I played Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' "American Girl" for my daughter, Sophia, this morning, and she was amazed. She's three and a half, and one of her prized possessions right now is her American Girl Doll, Elizabeth. When Petty crooned out the refrain, "She was . . . an American girl," Soph' looked up with wide, sparkling eyes and gasped.

"Daddy!" she said, reaching her out hand with her palm turned toward the ceiling. "This is American Girl Doll song!"

"Yep," I told her. I started to sing along with Petty, changing the words so that they were about Elizabeth. Sophia went into the kitchen to tell her mother.

"Mom," she shouted. "This is American Girl Doll song. Listen."

I put the song on repeat, and Sophia danced around in the living room for about twenty minutes.

As I watched her spin around, spread her arms out wide, and shake her hips, I envied her. It must be great to live in a world where this frenetic 70's anthem celebrating teenage restlessness seamlessly connects with an overpriced, parent-friendly doll that "honors the courage and spirit" of girlhood in colonial Virginia.

But the more I watched, I figured why not? I pictured Elizabeth, Felicity, Josefina, Kirsten, Addy, all of them dancing in a spastic chorus-line to the song's closing guitar riffs, and it was beautiful.

It's a shame Tom Petty is one of the few remaining artists who doesn't license his songs. It's a shame to think that someday Sophia will slowly begin to realize that the doll and the song actually have nothing to do with each other. It's a shame that she won't realize she's actually wrong. It's a shame that we all forget how simply and beautifully wise we are at the age of three.
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