Some things you just can’t properly prepare yourself for. This was my lesson, most recently as my 11-year-old began a summer purge.
It all started with one simple question as I drove her to swim practice: are you still playing with your dolls?
This quickly morphed into her sharing a conversation she had just had with her cousin. Apparently the two girls found themselves in a dilemma, as they recognized they really didn’t play with their babies any longer. Yet, what to do?
My daughter shared the stress (for lack of a better word) they felt, as they came to the realization of the pricey-ness of their American Girl dolls and how to properly tell the parents, they were just not into them any longer.
A diehard less-is-more, type of gal I rebounded her quandary with little struggle. Solution … simple – we would pack away a few and maybe gift one to another little girl who would continue to appreciate it, how was that? My daughter loved the idea of sharing her good fortune and giving one of her babies a continued life with yet another lucky girl. And so it was decided.
Here would be the place where I openly admit, I had no idea how hard this was going to be not just for her, but mom as well.
The decision was made to let ‘Madison’ go to the home of a sweet four-year-old friend named Layla.
Layla, had not yet discovered the world of American Girl, but she loved babies and had similar features to my daughter. As silly as that sounds, Madison had been selected by my daughter several years back for her similar hair color, style and light eyes.
And then it happened; my 11-year-old daughter and I lost it. Now, when I say lost it, I’m speaking of emotion which caught us both off guard. She’s handed down toys, dolls, books and the likes many a time. Madison, however, Madison was different.
Ready to pull the plug and alert Layla’s grandmother that we’d had a change of heart, my daughter said, “No mom. This is the right thing to do. I don’t need to put all these dolls in storage.”
And so she proceeded, to match up outfits, locate shoes and accessories, all the while having her mom pop in to ask, “Are you sure?” With Madison watching from her bottom bunk, an emphatic “yes” was returned with each question.
My son, being the male of the house, watched as his pre-teen sister and middle age mom continued to break into tears and hug as we spoke of our many fond memories with Madison. In short, he got a quick lesson in hormones, as both of us tend to be a bit of a wreck on any given day.
Later that morning, I texted my son from work. Thanking him for supporting us and likening the experience to a scene from one of the Toy Story movies.
“Maybe it’s time we re-watch that,” I texted.
“I was thinking the same thing,” he responded.
And so, days later, we journeyed to Layla’s, my daughter and I, and made the exchange. In the words of her grandmother it was, “one of the most emotional pay it forwards, I’ve ever witnessed.”
In all honesty, until she shared that, neither of us had thought of it as a pay it forward, it just simply seemed the right thing to do.
Oh, sure, we could have sold Madison to another little girl and used the money toward something my daughter’s interested in now – that was never considered. The priority then, remains the same now, we gain more from giving freely when truly from the heart.
As we left Madison and her new mom Layla, my daughter reflected on the joy of Layla as she dressed and showed off her newest family member.
Therein lies the beauty (I guess) of growth for not just my daughter but her mom as well. There is no amount of money that would have left us feeling as we did that night – all tears put aside. In the end, we have countless memories (and photos) of Madison, but now it’s someone else’s turn. Because life, after all, is best lived when we focus on memories, not things.
Big hugs and love, Layla and Madison.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.