Better to Give…

By Michael

Stephanie was packing up a box for Big Susan. Not Big Susan, her sister. That was just plain old Susan. Big Susan was the woman who came to clean the house every couple of weeks, at about the time the pile of dishes was scraping paint off the ceiling and the dust bunnies were multiplying like, well, bunnies.

If a house is filled with neatniks, having someone come in to clean every other week is a luxury. When the whole family resembles Oscar more than Felix, it’s a necessity.

Big Susan didn’t have a lot of money, but she did have a granddaughter, and Big Susan’s daughter—I think her name was Medium Susan—didn’t have lots of money, either. Our girls, meanwhile, had more toys than space to store them, so we decided to give some away to Medium Susan’s daughter, Susan Nano. (I’m not completely sure I remember all these names correctly, but I’m absolutely sure the granddaughter’s name was Nano.)

Anyway, I wandered into Stephanie’s room and she was filling a box with toys, including one of the SPECIAL toys I’d bought for her. You know, the toy you envision as an heirloom the moment you see it. It was a Mickey Mouse, as I recall, and I just knew Stephanie and I would share wonderful memories of the day we bought it and then we’d give it to her daughter and her daughter would give it to her daughter and we’d all laugh like ninnies until our noses started running.

Except, of course, that Stephanie was giving it away.

Trying to sound calm, I asked her about it. Was she sure she wanted to give this particular item away? Why not give away something else? Didn’t she realize how many memories I had planned around this unique, rare doll handsewn with love by slave laborers in Arugaland?

Okay, I didn’t get that far, but I absolutely overstepped some line, because she started to cry.

“I’m doing the right thing,” she sobbed.

Sometimes, your kids make you feel smaller and dumber and less insightful than someone one quarter your age. This was one of those times.

She was giving the doll away. Perhaps she didn’t care about it as much as it seemed to me. Or maybe she liked it a lot and thought Susan Nano would like it just as much. Whichever was correct, she had already learned the lesson of charity, of sharing. Only her father was out of touch.

And so that doll gave me an important memory and an important lesson. It wasn’t the memory I had in mind, but that’s okay. We still have our copy of Heckedy Peg.

Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

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