The tag I plucked from the “Giving Tree” at church read “Abbey, age 3, girl, doll/clothes.” Jet listened to my explanation about the reason for our shopping trip, but all she heard was “store” and she was ready. Jet loves shopping.
“Okay! Let’s go, Grandma!”
We started in the clothing section. “Go to the dolls! Go to the dolls!”
“We’ll get the clothes first. Then we’ll look for the doll.”
“Because that’s the way we’re going to do it.”
“Why doesn’t this little girl have any clothes, Grandma?”
“Some mommies and daddies don’t have enough money to get things for their children.”
“Well, it just happens that way sometimes. That’s why we are going to help them by getting some presents.”
“I want her to have clothes just like mine!”
“Well, let’s see what we can find.” We didn’t find a matching outfit, but Jet did find something she liked really well.
“Let’s get one for me, too so we can match!”
“We aren’t shopping for you today, Jet. Besides, they don’t have your size.”
Next stop baby dolls. The choices were more limited than I expected which was just as well since Jet pondered the options at length. Should she get the one with a carrier, the one with the bed, the one with a stuffed animal, or the one with 2 extra outfits? Eventually, she decided that the extra outfits were best. We still had some money left to spend, so we decided to look for less expensive items. We found some hair clips and socks. Then Jet saw a small stuffed dog.
“That’s it! Let’s get that little dog, okay?” I handed her the dog. “It’s so soft! I love it!” As we moved away from the stuffed animal section, Jet had much more to say: “I don’t have a dog like that. I have an old dog that used to be Mommy’s, but I don’t have a dog like that. Could we get one for me too?”
“No, we aren’t shopping for you today.”
“Because we are trying to help Abbey’s mother get her some presents for Christmas, remember?”
“We aren’t going to give her any of your toys are we?”
“No, we’re going to get her new presents. You can help me wrap them.”
“I want to see Abbey and play with her.”
“I’m sorry, but we can’t do that. We will never see Abbey, but we will see her presents and we can imagine how happy she will be to get them. I’m so proud of you for helping to do this for her!” I was also very proud of the way she accepted that nothing was for her.
“She’s going to be really happy, isn’t she?”
“Yes, I think she is!”
We wrapped everything the next day. Jet wanted to handle the tape, but she didn’t seem to understand how it worked. “You can’t just put the tape wherever you want, Jet. You have to put it on so it holds the paper together.”
“I’m just going to put it over here.”
“See how the paper didn’t stick together? That’s because you didn’t put the tape in the right place.”
Eventually I persuaded her to follow my directions. She did so well that I said she could do the last package by herself. Jet folded the paper together and I handed her a piece of tape. As she took the tape from my fingers, the corners of her mouth twitched and she looked hard into my eyes. Then she placed the tape in a useless spot and looked at me again.
“Did you put the tape there because I didn’t want you to?”
“Wow. What did you think would happen? Did you think I’d be mad at you?”
“I don’t know.”
“I know you like to do things your own way, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. The tape won’t hold the paper together unless you put it in the right place. Do you understand?”