My five-year-old niece, Miss A, came over to hang out with me this morning. When I picked her up today, she knew that we were headed to Wal-Mart for some of life’s necessities (Think, milk. And bread.), so she had a five dollar bill of her own to spend.
Her instructions, handed down to her by her parents, were rather simple: No toys. While we were driving in the Suburban, I asked her why she wasn’t allowed to buy toys with her money. She sighed and said, “It’s because my mom thinks I have way too many toys. I don’t think I have too many toys, but my mom does, so now I have to wait a long, long time until I can buy toys again. I’ll probably be ten years old by then.”
Shopping with Miss A is an entirely different experience than shopping with the boy. At one point, she grabbed my arm, shook it vigorously to gain my attention and shouted out, “Look! They put up a little glass wall where they sell the gum! I think that glass wall looks so much better than what they had before, and I love how the gum looks in front of that glass wall!”
Had I been shopping with the boy, he would have missed the newly-installed glass wall completely and simply asked, “Hey, can I get gum?”
After we’d loaded the cart with bread and milk and chicken and the like, I turned to Miss A and asked, “Okay, what would you like to spend your money on?”
She grinned, from ear to ear, and whispered, “Follow me.”
She knew exactly where she was going — the toy department. I began phrasing apologies to her parents in my head. “Well, actually she didn’t buy the toy; I bought it for her. Does that count?” I was surprised when she walked through the bright-pink Barbie aisle, pointed at a doll from The Princess and the Frog movie, and stated, “When I can finally buy toys again, I’m going to buy THIS Barbie. I just love her so much.”
For a five-year-old, she had some serious willpower. We kept walking.
And we stopped right in front of the hoola hoops. Miss A looked at me and asked, “I’ve been wanting a pink hoola hoop all of my life, but I’m not sure if it’s a toy or not.”
I looked at Miss A and stated, “It’s definitely NOT a toy; it’s athletic equipment! And your brothers get new athletic equipment all the time. You know, hockey sticks and soccer cleats and mouth guards for football.” Miss A grinned from ear to ear again, and we loaded the pink hoola hoop into our cart.
It cost exactly $1.49, and it brought a couple hours’ worth of entertainment to us this morning. Miss A kept shouting out, “Get your camera! Take a picture of me while I’m hoola hooping!” I’m not accustomed to being asked to take pictures! Usually the boy grumbles and whines, “Not your camera again!”