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The Toy Store, And The Heart Behind It

Over the weekend I got out a big trunk of stored toys: things the girls didn’t need on a daily basis any more, but still wanted to hold on to. Maddie had asked for a glimpse of some old stuffed animals, and I thought it would be fun for the girls to see some of their old favorites.

Within minutes of my dragging the trunk into the living room, we’d had a stuffed-animal explosion.

For the rest of the weekend, the girls had an elaborate game going on consisting of several shops/stores in a small town “somewhere”. Cora opened up a toy store, while Maddie opened up a doctor’s office and a pet shelter. Cora set up a cash register, arranged her stuffed animals attractively, and hung “open” and “closed” signs, while Maddie filled out adoption certificates for the shelter stuffed animals and hung out a “the doctor is in” sign when she was home.

In short, they had a great time.

By the time Sunday afternoon rolled around, both girls were begging the grown-ups to come to visit the stores. So I walked through Cora’s shop, admiring the display, examining the deck of Uno cards, and exclaiming over Cora’s arrangement of all her Sesame Street stuffed dolls. In the end I chose the Uno pack and a Big Bird, and after waving invisible money at Cora I turned to go. “Those are some of my favorite things, I really hope you like them,” Cora called as I walked out.

I duly walked across the “street” to Maddie’s pet shelter, where I picked out an adorable little tiger to adopt, filled out the paperwork, and headed home with a new best friend. At the end of the night the girls seemed content, and Cora had been remarkably generous, giving Gamma a display of several favorite dolls when Gamma admired it so. I allowed the girls to leave the game set up for a couple more days, since they’d had so much fun building it, and both Maddie and Cora returned to their shops over the week.

Then yesterday I heard Maddie and Cora arguing: Maddie wanted to turn her shelter into a toy store, too, and Cora was vehemently against it: “Maddie, what kind of a toy store would it be if you sell toys to people and then want them to give the toys back?”

Wait a minute.

I stepped in. “Cora, everyone will give the things back – it’s just a game! You can’t pretend buy something from Maddie and keep it forever.”

I looked at my big-hearted girl.

“When you sold us your toys, were you letting us really keep them forever? Like, forever forever?” I asked. Cora nodded.

I thought about that Big Bird, and how she’d told me it was one of her favorites as I left. And I thought about my mom, and how Cora gave her all the display dolls even though she’d originally never intended to “sell” them.

I have a big-hearted girl. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve her, and I certainly can’t claim any credit in making her this way. The sheer selflessness of that six-year-old this weekend takes my breath away.

And makes me want to try even harder to be a good mom for her.


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