I just got back from taking all four girls to WalMart to buy a modest gift for Mommy while she's at work. Easy for Bethany and Kailey. Easy for Meke. Especially hard for Neti.
Neti and Meke took the entire contents of their piggie bank $6.78 and $2.67 respectively. You'd think Neti had won one of those "fill-your-cart-with-as-much-stuff-as-you-can-in-a-minute" contests. She wanted to buy EVERYTHING. Not ANYTHING. EVERYTHING! It started from the moment we stepped in the store.
"OOOOOH! I want it, Daddy."
"No, Neti, Mommy doesn't want glitter lipgloss."
"Daddy, over here."
"No, Neti, we already have toothpaste. That's not a good gift."
"I like it down here, Daddy."
"Neti, those are screws. Mommy doesn't need screws."
Everything was fair game.
"Daddy, can I get this?...Daddy, come look...Daddy..."
Finally, I realized that she wasn't asking permission to buy these things for Mommy. She was shopping for herself. I picked her up and put her in the cart.
"Neti, we're not here to buy things for Neti. We came to buy something nice for Mommy for Christmas."
"Oooooh. I want the phone, Daddy. Can I have the phone? I like the phone."
"NETI. LISTEN. We're not here to buy for Neti. We're here to buy for Mommy! Mommy doesn't want a Barbie phone. What would Mommy like? That's what we're here to buy."
"I want a coloring book. We don't have that one, Daddy. Can I get it?"
We finally settled on a gift - Neti reluctantly so. I informed our crew that since Neti and Meke didn't have quite enough money that Daddy would pitch in. "We can make this gift from Neti and Meke and Daddy."
Neti was visibly opposed. She folded her arms, shrinking down in the cart with her bottom lip protruding, "That doesn't make sense. That's three and one."
"Yes, Neti. Sometimes three
people can give one
gift to one
"But that doesn't make sense."
"So what do you want to buy Mommy, Neti?"
"But you don't have enough money for a dress. And Mommy doesn't wear dresses very much."
"I'll show you, Daddy. Go over there."
She proceded to direct me to the lingerie section where she picked out her favorite red "dress" to give to Mommy.
We didn't get it (Rhonda will be happy to read this part).
Neti shrunk down in the cart and resumed her sour look. She started talking under her breath to herself. "I want to buy the phone."
UGH!!!! I wanted to give my best you-have-more-toys-in-your-toybox-than-the-entire-Ethiopian-orphanage lecture. Or maybe the you-have-two-week's-Ethiopian-wages-in-that-plastic-baggie lecture would do the trick. Instead, I took a different approach. Maybe this isn't a lesson she can learn here at WalMart with all the temptations. Maybe we'd have to put this lesson off until Christmas day.
"Neti, you can choose. You can buy the phone for Neti. But you won't be able to buy the gift for Mommy. The gift will only be from Meke and Daddy, not Neti."
"And you can write Neti on it too."
"No, Neti. We can't write 'from Neti' if only Daddy and Meke buy it. That's lying because Neti didn't really buy it."
"What do you want to do, Neti."
More silence. Wheels turning.
I allowed her to process it for a good minute or two.
"Neti, what do you want to do?"
"I want the phone."
I repeated the consequences. "So you want the gift to only say 'from Meke and Daddy'?"
(staring into space, in a very quiet whine) "I want the phone."
Satisfied that this was a Christmas day lesson we made our way to the phone. Just an aisle away, a second thought:
"I want to buy for Mommy."
We turned around again and purchased Mommy's gift. Neti's name will be on the package.
Did she learn?