photo by Elisa Clayon

photo by Elisa Clayon

Before very long I sense a lull in her browsing and notice her fumbling in her clutch for her little pink fabric teenager purse. I glide on over with all the apologetic subtlety that my clunky wooden heels will allow. She’s my precious little one and I don’t want to overwhelm! Naturally, though, she is aware of my approach and freezes slightly.

I smile sympathetically before launching into a super embarrassing talk! I say “Lena, I promised you a gift because of what you accomplished, and I’m so proud of you! “—Oh GREAT! Here? And she’s going to give me money in front of everyone? Can I just evaporate on the spot? I take a moment to guess lamely at the content of her teenagerly mind, from my no-doubt quaint mother’s vantage point, and I feel a little sorry. But I’m all pumped up with righteous maternal adrenaline and nothing will stop me from issuing important life lessons now!

I pull out my wallet and hand over several bills. Her eyes dance furiously, furtively, then become excruciatingly fixated on the bottom edge of my wallet. “And when you work at things that are important, there are rewards for that.” Her pursed lips are anxiously bemused, and she shifts nervously. I continue with my job. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you by giving you this money.” She nods, quickly, eyes darting again. I hand the money over. She says a thank you almost like a question and our transaction is completed.

On to the second floor, where I know they keep the toys, ropes, and books.

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