Mrs. Jones is Goldie's Kindergarten teacher.
"Sure we can," I agreed, "but tonight I'm just going to the grocery store, and I don't know that we'd find what you want there."
"But Mom! Please! I know just what Mrs. Jones would want! Really! She needs a new blue marker! Hers ran out and she really needs a new one."
"What kind of blue marker? Do you mean like the kind that write on those white chalkboards?" (Yes, I knew they were called "dry erase boards" but I didn't think Goldie did).
"Yah! Those kind!"
"Did hers just run out today?" I asked.
"No, a few days ago, but every time she uses it it's kind of dried out and she keeps saying she needs to get a new one!"
"That's a great idea, Goldie," I said, "and they actually might have one at the grocery store."
Goldie ran to her room to get one of her dollars. Her grandma had given her $20 for her birthday back in July. Rather than buy one big thing with it, she had been eager to have it broken into smaller bills. Two of them went right away for tithing, and the other 18 have gone here and there towards various things. Once, she splurged and bought herself a tin of little round mints at the grocery store. They were a kind sold up by the gum at checkout stands. We'd gone to several stores searching for them because I couldn't figure out what it was she was trying to find, and we'd kept looking along the candy isles. They were a dollar, or so she assumed, because, for some reason, she believes that everything is a dollar -- whether it be a small treat or a fairly large toy. The mints were close enough and I discreetly made up the difference (because she wanted to be buying them all on her own).
The other dollars have, almost exclusively, gone towards others. A dollar contributed towards sending a little girl in Haiti to school, a dollar to Abe on his birthday, a dollar to my older sister Amy when she got to come along to a sisters luncheon on Amy's birthday. I always ask her if she's sure and tell her we can just buy or make something little (as she also adores making people presents), but it gives her such happiness to give out her dollars and see how surprised and happy her recipient is that there is no talking her out of it. She's been careful in her choices and still has quite a few left.
Anyway, back to last night: She ran to her room to grab a dollar for Mrs. Jones present. We found a pack of dry erase markers that contained a blue one, and once again, Goldie paid her dollar to the clerk before I added the rest.
I thought she'd just want to wrap the whole package of markers, but she really wanted it to be just the blue one. She wanted Mrs. Jones to know, unmistakeably, that she was giving her the very thing she most needed (and surely wanted) -- one new blue dry erase marker.
So, we removed the blue marker from the pack and Goldie carefully wrapped it (along with one small taffy). She then drew a picture of Mrs. Jones right on the wrapping paper in dark black marker and wrote, "Gonze," and I had to give Abe a quick silencing stare when he said, "Mrs. Gonze?" with a hard "G" sound.
It took a lot of deliberating this morning for Goldie to decide when to let Mrs. Jones open it. She really wanted it to be a Christmas present -- wanted to make Mrs. Jones open it on Christmas morning, but I was worried there might be a new blue dry erase marker by then and the thoughtfulness of Goldie's little gesture might be lost. In the end, she'd been convinced to let Mrs. Jones open it today.
I bid farewell to Goldie as she ran into school this morning -- little wrapped marker clutched tightly in her hand.
After school, when she'd climbed next to me in the truck, I asked excitedly, "So? Did you give Mrs. Jones her present?"
"Yah," she shrugged her shoulders and looked down, "but some of the kids were mean to me and said it wasn't a good present and said I have to give her something else."
"What? They did? But did Mrs. Jones like it?"
"Yah," she replied unenthusiastically, h"she did."
"Did she open it in front of everyone? Is that how all the kids saw it?"
"No. Just, some of the kids came over to see what I was giving her and said it wasn't a good present and that I should give her something else."
I began wishing I was there -- that I was Mrs. Jones -- that I could have fawned over the gift and told all of the kids that it was the greatest present ever because Goldie had so clearly truly thought of something I wanted and needed; but I could only say, "Well, that's just silly. I bet Mrs. Jones didn't think that! I bet she thought it was the best present ever and was so happy that you'd noticed what she really needed. I bet she loved your present. Did she use it on the board today?"
"Yah," and a shrug.
I wanted her to feel how she'd felt that morning as she'd clutched the wrapped blue marker in her hand -- expectant of the joy it would surely bring, but she couldn't feel that way any more. Now it was just a plain old blue marker. A blue marker that did get used right away, but only because that's what you do with blue markers and nothing else.
A tiny little blue markered heartbreak for us both.