My daughter, my hero

As I’ve mentioned before, my daughter has some personality traits that aren’t…pleasant in a 5-year-old. The other day, she threw a temper tantrum because I didn’t let her have her own cart (and fill it with stuff she wanted to buy, for which I would then of course pay) at the grocery store. (I let her do that once. On a Tuesday evening at 7 p.m. Sunday morning at 11 a.m. is a whole other ballgame.) Then we got in an argument because I wanted her to hold my hand in the parking lot, and she told me she didn’t have to because it was a parking lot, not a street. (“Are there moving cars? Might they hit a little girl who darts out in front of them? Then get your tushie over here and hold my hand.”) Then she got mad at me because I wouldn’t take her out for ice cream, even though she’s sick and it was nearly bedtime. It’s one battle after another with her. Yesterday, today, tomorrow, and probably for the rest of her life.

She won’t take no for an answer. She won’t take yes for an answer. She won’t take any answer that isn’t her answer. It’s her way or the highway. She plays to win, and win she shall — even if she has, in fact, lost.

But she is going to make an awesome adult someday.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone knowing my current employment situation that I am pretty freaking stressed out about money. Spending several years as the breadwinner, and at times the sole income earner, combined with two maternity leaves, an unplanned cesarean, and a move within 5 years have added a pretty staggering load to my credit card debt. My layoff this past July means it’s going to be that much longer before I get it paid off…if, indeed, I do ever manage to pay it off. We were planning on getting married, buying a house, and buying a minivan in the near future; now some or all of that will have to be put on hold because we’re having to lean on the cards instead of merely using them for big items and emergencies. I’ve charged medical bills. I’ve charged groceries and gasoline. We have not gone under, nor are creditors hounding me, but it’s still not a good scene.

Much as I’ve tried to shield her from all this, my daughter is at least marginally aware of the situation. I’ve explained to her that we cannot spend money as we were, and that we need to watch how many frivolous purchases we make, because now we aren’t just out of expendable income — we don’t have enough income for the bare necessities. I’ve told her that I know she wants to take a vacation, and that we will someday, but it can’t be now. I’ve told her that I know she’s eager for Daddy and I to have a wedding, but that I have to put it off at least until the fall (I’m not even sure it’s going to happen this year, but I’m not telling her that); hopefully that will give me time to get a job so we can afford to have a cake I didn’t bake myself. (And rings, a wedding license, flowers…) I’ve explained that while she is correct that we need a bigger house, we can’t buy one right now because houses are so much more expensive than Dollar Spot toys, or tablets, or even cars. And that yes, I know we need a new car, too.

I don’t know how much she actually understands about all this, but some of it is filtering through. The other night, as I was in the middle of a workday that was pushing the 14-hour mark, she brought me this:

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She told me that she was giving it to me because she loves me and wants me to not be so worried all the time. (I imagine she was also hoping it would mean I would stop working and go play with her, but deadlines are deadlines.)

Today, she told me that she wants to make a lemonade stand. I thought she got the idea from a book we’ve read together — it’s a really cute book, and the reason we made her Etsy shop. But no. She wants to make a lemonade stand not so she can earn money to buy herself things, but so she can give me the money to save towards buying a house. Because, she says, we will all be happier if we have a new house.

Is my kid bossy, self-centered, materialistic? Sometimes. But she’s also the kind of person who looks for what needs to be done and does it — not for the accolades, but for the betterment of her loved ones.

I can’t say I am that surprised, though. This is the little girl who hands out pieces of her own personal gum to strangers at the grocery store. The girl who will give away her balloon to a kid that doesn’t have one. The girl who gave the cashier one of her treasured rocks, just to make her smile. The girl who has a smile and a compliment for everyone she meets. She has a heart full of love, and she shares it every chance she gets.

And that’s why she is my hero. I wish more people were like her.

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