Driving home from school; one of Daughter’s new favorite pass-times is reading signs, now that she can read.
“The Melting Pot,” she says. “What’s that?”
“That’s the place we went to once where you cook your food in the pots? They had that princess day that I took you to.”
“Oh! I remember that place!” Daughter exclaims. “Can we go there again?”
“Well,” Mommy says, “Maybe on a super-special occasion. It’s really expensive to eat there.”
“How much?” she wants to know.
“For the two of us to eat?” I say, calculating quickly: a day without one of their special discounts, for two people, with tip… “About seventy dollars.”
“Seventy dollars!” she cries, shocked. “That’s a lot!”
“Yes,” I say. “That’s a big chunk of cash.”
I can almost hear her frowning from the backseat. “Do you know how much I have?”
“One dollar. And a dime.”
“A dollar and ten cents,” I say. “That’s a lot of money, when you’re six!”
“Really?” she says, skeptical.
“Well, yes,” I say. “Has Daddy been giving you your allowance every Saturday?”
“No,” she says. “But I don’t want him to give it to me.”
“Why not?” I ask, puzzled.
“Because I want to be like a grown-up,” she declares.
I frown a little, never quite knowing how to feel about her desire to grow up faster. Cautiously, I ask, “What do you mean?”
“Grown-ups don’t ask for money,” she says, firm. “They make money. I want to make money. Like grown-ups do.”
Try as I might, I can’t come up with a ready response for this. I fumble my answer, and Daughter is not impressed… because we both know that she’s right. It’s better to be the one doing the thing than it is to be the one waiting for someone to give it to you. But I wonder where she absorbed that idea. I think about how long I stand at my computer, writing, putting up books, working on covers, organizing interviews, and answering the “What are you doing, Mommy?” question absently, with “I’m working, sweets, so we can have money to eat and have nice things.” And I dearly hope that I am setting a good example, and that this is what she’ll remember when she’s older instead of “Mommy didn’t have time to play with me like Grandma did, because she was always working.”
Grandma, my mother-in-law, tells me comfortingly that it’s always that way with parents. “You don’t really get to enjoy kids until you have grandkids. You never remember their childhood when you’re the mother. You’re too busy.” I hope she’s right.
Until then: You go, Daughter. Never wait for what you want when you can get it yourself. Even if I don’t think your $10-a-glass lemonade stand is going to work out very well. Try it anyway.