Humor Parenting

The Tale of Headless Barbie (or the 5 Stages of Kid Clean-up Grief)

The Tale of Headless Barbie (or the 5 Stages of Kid Clean-up Grief)

By Alyce Kominetsky of One Word at a Time

You know when you have a list of ‘To Dos’ tacked to your fridge, but it mostly serves as a constant reminder of all the things you have failed to do?

I know I do.

However, one rainy and miserable day led me to feeling productive.

I decided to conquer one of the ‘To Dos’ on my list–the one I had been dreading most. I had hoped to complete said task when my darling daughter was not home, but who am I kidding? When I am finally graced with time alone, the last thing I want to be doing is anything productive.

So, there I was, ready to take on de-cluttering my five-year-old’s toys. To torture myself further, I decided to include her in the process.

I should have known better. I should have known that what started out as an opportunity to teach her the importance of organization and a lesson in giving back would indeed backfire.

While riding what became an emotional roller coaster, I came to a realization. When a five-year old is faced with the task of parting with their ‘valuables,’ they experience the five stages of loss and grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Here is how our morning played out; how I resisted pouring myself a bottle, I mean a glass, of wine still amazes me.

Stage 1: Denial

At first, my daughter seemed ready to help me complete our task. Dare I say she was even excited? But when the big black garbage bag made its appearance, the excitement drained from her body. Fear set in. Suddenly she realized what was going down. And she refused to believe what was happening. She adamantly stated over and over that what we were doing was not necessary.

“Actually, Mama, I DO play with headless Barbie. She’s my favorite.”

We haven’t seen headless Barbie in months.

Yup. Denial.

Stage 2: Anger

Things escalated to this stage rather quickly. Upon seeing each prized possession (I use prized loosely as some toys haven’t seen the light of day in ages) thrown into the garbage bag, mad daughter came out to play.

“Why???!!! I told you I still play with her. Why are you being so mean, Mommy?”

Her calm, cool, and collected nature was nowhere to be seen. This girl was seeing red, and I was definitely enemy number one.

Anger. Check.

Stage 3: Bargaining

I must admit she comes by this naturally. I am a born negotiator. But now she is bargaining on a whole new level. She will do whatever it takes to save headless Barbie.

“Mama, instead of this Barbie, how about this car instead?”

I want to tell her the car is also going in the garbage, but I’m not sure if she can handle it. Then, she pulls out the big guns.

“I’ll throw this out, but only if you buy me something new.”

Not quite the point of what we are doing here. While persistent, bargaining doesn’t seem to be working for her.

Bargaining–she gets an ‘A’ for effort.

Stage 4: Depression

When all else fails, turn on the water works. With tears streaming down her sweet little face, she informs me:

“This is the SADDEST day of my life!”

I have a moment of weakness but quickly pull myself together. I know it sucks. I know she thinks I am a terrible mom, but for goodness sake…throw out headless Barbie already!

Depression complete.

Stage 5: Acceptance

The end is in sight. We made it through denial, anger, bargaining, and depression, and now she is weak. She is close to admitting defeat.

I take advantage of her weakness and somehow I miraculously convince her that headless Barbie is better off in the abyss of the garbage bag.

“It’s okay, Mama. I guess I have other Barbies to play with.”

Finally, she comes to the realization that she has ONE MILLION other Barbies (with heads!) to play with. She slowly makes her way to the garbage bag, says a silent goodbye to her headless companion–I don’t bother telling her that Barbie can’t hear her– and lowers her into the darkness.

Thank you, acceptance.



I did it. After making our way through the five stages, we both made it out unscathed. One small victory for Momkind.

Now, back to the piles of toys we have yet to sift through.

Will Barbie’s head be found? Only time will tell. But I have a feeling if it is, I will likely be digging her body back out of the bag to avoid facing this process with my daughter again.

Pick your battles, Moms. Pick your battles.

This post was originally published on One Word at a Time.


About the Author

Alyce is a full time Communications student, and full-time Wife and Mama. When she isn’t chasing after her five year old; she enjoys reading, writing, and dabbling in photography. She proudly admits her obsession with reality television. She has been published by Club Mid at Scary Mommy, Yummy Mummy Club, and Mamalode. Read more on her blog One Word At A Time, and find Alyce on Facebook and Twitter.