You gotta have friends. It’s the way we humans roll. Kids, especially, need somebody to talk to, a friend to snuggle up with when they're not feeling well, a friend to whisper secrets to in the dark...someone to just be there. Having a friend and confidante, whether it’s the family pet or a favourite doll, can help boost a child’s confidence when they need it most.
My daughter, Avery, is ten. She craves friendship. Sometimes she finds it, other times it’s elusive. Her speech and cognitive delays make it difficult to communicate with girls her age. Don’t get me wrong, her peers are warm and kind and inclusive, but it’s not always easy for them to connect. So sometimes, the park is lonely. But my girl is never alone. She always has Charlie.
Avery and Charlie (Charlsea) – her Maplelea doll — have been inseparable since they met last year. Charlie provides comfort and companionship on road trips, or when her room is dark and it’s storming outside — or whenever she needs a hand to hold.
Avery dresses Charlie up and brings her along to appointments. Charlie just sits quietly and observes at speech therapy. She’s more of a listener than a talker, really.
She comes to Avery’s medical appointments, for moral support. At the hospital this summer, I heard Avery tell Charlie “I'll be okay. The doctor is very nice. You don't need to worry. And we get TimBits after.”
We met another girl about Avery’s age in the waiting room. She had her Maplelea doll Taryn with her. The girls chatted and introduced their dolls. Apparently my daughter isn’t the only one who enjoys having a buddy along to soothe her nerves. The nurse told me that lots of girls bring their dolls in with them. I think that’s the sweetest (and smartest) thing ever.
Scratch that—the actual sweetest thing is listening to Avery talk to Charlie in their room. They bunk together. Charlie quite possibly has nicer furniture than I do! A four poster bed and matching side table with a drawer for her treasures (and abundance of headbands). This doll has a wardrobe to die for and shoes for days.
I specifically ordered a pair of shoes with long laces so Avery could practice tying them up. Shoelaces and brushing Charlie’s hair (we bought the Maplelea doll hair brush) and doing braids and messy buns are fun ways to work on fine motor skills.
Maplelea dolls were created by a Canadian mom to align with the values she wanted to instill in her own daughter. She also aimed to provide an engaging and fun experience and encourage learning about Canada’s heritage, culture, and geography.
Maplelea has a huge range of accessories (over 250 sets!) all with a distinctive Canadian theme. The line includes 7 ‘Maplelea Girl’ character dolls, each from a different region of Canada, and a variety of Maplelea Friends (‘lookalike’) dolls, doll clothes, doll furniture and matching clothing (which Avery loves!) age appropriate for girls age 6 to 12+.
Maplelea dolls were created to be positive role models that encourage Canadian kids to lead healthy, active lives, and to be knowledgeable about our country's culture, heritage and geography. Each Maplelea Girl is a unique individual with her own preferences, interests and strengths, but all are bright, energetic, caring girls who are happy with just who they are. Sounds a lot like a little blonde girl I know.
Maplelea offers an expressly Canadian play experience, from the story journals to the accessories. For example, a hockey uniform, a ringette uniform, a wooden toboggan, traditional Inuit clothing, Ukrainian dance outfit, highland dance outfit, maple leaf sweater, mitt set, etc. Several Maplelea accessories are made in Canada, including the toboggan, much of the girl-size clothing, and Saila’s amauti & Pang hat (which are made by craftspeople in Nunavut).
In addition to everything above, each Maplelea doll (each from a different region of Canada) comes with a story journal and a huge range of accessories all with a distinctive Canadian theme. The journal includes pages of notes “handwritten by Charlie” with information about where she comes from (the west coast where I grew up!), her family, her pets, the food she likes, places she’s been.
As a former teacher, I appreciate the incredible amount of detail! Avery thinks it’s hilarious that one of Charlie’s pet chickens is named Fraser, my maiden name.
Why did the chicken named Fraser cross the street?
To get to the other side (because she forget where she parked. Again).
The second half of the journal contains blank duplicates for the doll’s person to fill in. Again...happy teacher heart over here.
Having somebody who shares in your interests is huge. And when you have a doll, they pretty much have no choice but to like what you like. Charlie and Avery have a ton in common.
They both enjoy fashion, heavy on the sparkle.
They both have small white scars—Avery on her knee from a fall and Charlie on her forehead from who knows what. Nobody’s talking. Fortunately, it didn’t require stitches and if you ask me, it totally ups her street cred.
And of course, they both have tattoos. Wait no, just Charlie. She’s tastefully inked on her neck.
Of course, now Avery of wants the same. Um, maybe let’s start with getting your ears pierced kiddo.
My daughter may read to Charlie, and dress her, and style her hair, and chat with her like she’s real, but she understands that "It's only for pretend, mum.” She knows Charlsea is a doll, but a doll she trusts and loves like she’s real. One night, before bed, as she was tucking Charlie in for the night, she told me, “She's my doll. But she's also my friend.” She’s right. And life is always better when you share it with friends.
So when the grandparents ask what Avery would like for Christmas, I’ll send them to the Maplelea website. Charlie has her eye on those sparkly silver high tops :)
Maplelea Girls is a line of premium dolls, story journals, furniture, accessories, and doll clothing made right here in Canada.
Your kids can choose a doll that comes with her own unique background or pick a Maplelea Friend and create a story all her own.
Browse the entire online catalogue from the comfort of your home or go see them in person at the new seasonal store in the Yorkdale Mall which is now open until March 2017.
Either way, your child is about to get a new best friend.
As a social media manager and writer with many years of online experience — dog years, of course, because everyone knows one internet year equals seven in real life — I’m well equipped to ensure that my son begins creating his digital footprint safely. At thirteen, he’s already legit next level obvi (teen speak) tech-savvy, so it's only a matter of time before he's showing me what to do. But for now, I’m teaching him to surf safely like it’s my job. Because it is.
My parents on the other hand? Their digital footprint is more of a cha-cha, which usually ends up with me reminding them that "No, 'qwerty' is NOT a safer password than 123456!" or "Yes dad, you CAN change your ringtone." He somehow set his ringtone to "Feliz Navidad" and it stayed like that for two years. When his phone rang in the summer it was like (Mexican) Christmas in July. Mind you, my dad’s phone doesn’t ring often since it's off most of the time..."To save the battery." Ask my mother how she felt about that when she lost him at the mall last week for forty-five minutes. (She's smiling in the photo, but trust me, there were "words.")
My dad finally “figured out” how to change the ringer (ten bucks says he pressed a button by accident). His ringtone is now the Graduation March. So now, whenever his phone rings, I feel like I should toss my hat in the air or make a speech about the future of my generation.
Speaking of generations, I feel somewhat sandwiched between two: my kids, who I’m trying to protect from the underbelly of the internet, and my parents, who like the rest of their senior buddies, are trying to stay in the loop and keep connected by way of tech.
Plus, I'm watching them, always watching...
But my parents, who's watching them? (Besides that one creepy neighbour who peers out his window all day.)
My parents are no dummies. They know things. Lots of things. Just not so much about tech because tech is tricky. The minute you have a handle on it, it goes and changes on you. Like fashion. I can't keep up. So, ripped jeans are back in? Good, because I'm wearing torn jeans. Not because I'm on trend, but because I tripped on the hose and fell on the driveway.
I try to help my parents figure it all out as best I can. Mostly to keep them safe, and partly to stop the panicked phone calls and hilariously auto-corrected text questions.
When my mom phones me and says, "Lisa, your dad clicked on something and now there's something weird on our screen!" I tell her to read this... (and no, you didn't win a free cruise. I got the same email).
When I logged onto my parent's computer and saw they had Internet Explorer set as their web browser, I felt a little dizzy. A time warp back to the nineties will do that. So I downloaded a new browser from this decade and reminded them to keep their browser in check (this is when my mother makes a joke about getting her eyebrows waxed....the apple doesn't fall from the tree, obviously). It's important to have the latest version of your browser installed and configured to provide the best security and privacy. And, make sure to empty your cache (this is where my dad will pretend to empty his wallet...apple and tree again) and history at least once a month.
When my mom was ready to upgrade to a new phone, I told her to wipe it before turning it in. Before she could say anything I told her, "No, not with a moist wet wipe." Be sure to remove all personal data (documents, apps, photos, etc.) before recycling or giving away your phone.
I can't always help because as my mom claims, I'm the "B word." Busy. (My mom rarely calls me a bitch unless I'm being very, very naughty. ) So this is why I suggested they sign up for a TELUS WISE Senior’s workshop. All elements of the program are free-of-charge and available to all Canadians. If you want to book a TELUS WISE Senior's workshop for your community group, email them and set up a session!
And finally, if you watch this video and recognize your parents, just go ahead and sign them up for a workshop. Or at least send them an electronic copy of the senior's guide because it's only a matter of time before they click a link about buying some cheap swamp land in Florida.