Liittle Jefe

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Dear J-

The age of wonder is over to be replaced by the age of what-did-you-get-me. Yesterday the items that I’d ordered (admittedly a little late) for theVet’s birthday finally came and figgy was interested: what’s in the package, can we open it? We rushed out to dinner and came back where the interrogation continued until we finally did break them open to reveal the semi-arty stuff within: some writing pads of nice paper, a fountain pen, and a portable watercolor set which figgy immediately latched on to and would not surrender no matter the cost or bribe offered.

“But it’s mommy’s present.”
“We don’t have time.”
“How about a movie instead?” &tc.

She responded with a stubborn jut to her jaw and the same thing over and over: “I want to paint it for mommy.” Blame it on our weak hearts but at that point we ended up running to Target to get a little watercolor set and a pad of paper at a fraction of the cost that I’d spent on nicer gift things. We throw little disposable crafts her way when she’s around to occupy her — paint-by-number sets and velvet coloring cards — so it’s no wonder that when she saw what was in the box she assumed she’d get a crack at watercolors and sketching. The cost of the watercolors and paper for her was nominal and the time was minimal, but it was a little burble in the usual night time routine.

I suppose that saying what-did-you-get-me is too harsh; if it wasn’t such a big deal and it made her if not happy and ecstatic at least calm then why am I still thinking about it? When I was six or so I remember whining about going to the toy store or at least the Ben Franklin (five and dime) until my dad, fed up, went into the basement and grabbed some present from years back out of storage, handed it to me, and walked away (it was a baseball game played like pinball with a little manual plunger and flippers and holes in the plaing field would tell you if you’d scored a run or gotten a base hit). Time and effort expended on getting it must have been pretty low but still, it tasted like ashes in my mouth even then: I’ve whined my way into earning this. I ended up playing with it for maybe half an hour, total.

I’ve always looked at that as a lesson for me to be always careful in how I go about getting things; is it for the right reasons or have I just worn down the opposition? Today I believe there’s still lessons to be learned: if it’s such a small thing, why am I sweating it? I actually loved having the opportunity to take her out of the usual evening routine of snacks and yelling at her to hurry up, stop dragging around. And it made her happy enough, and the financial cost was low (though I wonder what sort of lesson it teaches) so why not, right? Right?

Mike

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