(Note: This slice is a break from the hospital saga. I will get the rest written, but I needed a break and this happened...)
With money burning a hole in her pocket she called a family meeting. The plan was all laid out in her mind, she just had to convince us to help her execute it. First, Daddy drives her to the toy store to see if there is anything she can afford. Next, if the toy store isn't open she needs him to take her back later. She wants the toy before the playdate she is hoping to have in the afternoon, though it has not been confirmed yet.
And then comes reality. Yes, it is your allowance. Yes, we know you are so excited to actually receive it as the past countless months you have had to use it to repay us for things you have lost or ruined. Yes, we give you allowance for the purpose of learning the value of money and how to manage it. Yes, we would love for you to buy something that you would like to have. (Do you feel it coming?!)
However, you first need to buy the chocolate milk to replace the one you took from a classmate. Oh, and you promised a friend that you would buy them gum (five packs, was the promise). And it is Friday - Friday morning in Saudi - I don't think the toy store opens until the afternoon.
So, let's make a plan. You not only have your allowance, but also the Chinese New Year money you were given. How much is that all together? (She calculates and beams as she realizes it is 14 riyal - the equivalent of $3.75.) What do you HAVE to buy? Chocolate milk. Then you can decide what kind of gum. (Neither of these 'debts' seem to bother her.) With whatever is left you can buy whatever you like.
"Can we go now?!"
After more discussions including what we know is open and what is likely not open and Daddy saying he is only going out once today and pointing out we will be going grocery shopping tomorrow and we know the toy store is open then she agrees to the hypermarket that has a toy section. (She even remembers seeing Joy from Inside Out there, so it might not be too bad.) They head out.
Upon their return she has purchased the chocolate milk and five packs of gum. The smile is still from ear to ear even though all the toys were too expensive. I should have known from the smile that she had another plan.
"Mommy? Can I take my money to the store and buy some gum?"
"You mean you want to walk to the store on the compound and buy some gum for yourself?"
"Yes! Can I go by myself?"
"Hmmm. If you bring back the change and the ONE pack of gum to show us before you open it, I think it might work. Let me ask Daddy if he thinks I am crazy."
After a very brief parenting meeting we agree that the errand and opportunity to show responsibility are great ideas and send her off. She returns with a proud, "I'm home!", just a few minutes later. Waving her change in one hand and the pack of gum in the other, pride bursting from every pore, she takes off her shoes, washes her hands, and asks if she can have a piece of gum.
Before bedtime she has had gum three times and shared gum with three other friends. (I am sure she has plans for more gum tomorrow.) As she grows up, it is the little things that mark the path from little kid to independence. Today some trail markers were laid.