And Then I Stepped in Gum . . .

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Katie's Choice

For the last couple of days, we've been living a re-enactment of Sophie's choice -- if, that is, Sophie were a five-year-old girl obsessed with horses.

It all started way back, such a long, long time back . . . for Christmas last year, Dave's brother, who is a nutcase, albeit a fun uncle, got Katie a practically life-sized stuffed circus horse. I mean, this thing is huge. Even bigger than the practically life-sized stuffed tiger he'd bought her the year before. Which was bigger than the 3-foot teddy bear he'd bought her the year before. So he is largely responsible for the ban on stuffed animals as gifts for our children that we've instated. We just don't have enough room anymore. They are "allowed" to receive Beanie Baby-sized animals, but anything bigger than that is frowned on.

And if you have young children, you know how difficult it is to weed through their possessions and get rid of them. Occasionally one can do it while the child is at school, but sometimes they notice. And wouldn't you notice if a life-sized stuffed horse went missing from your bedroom? So we've been stuck with the tiger and the horse.

On Sunday, we went to Target. Now, Katie really doesn't beg for that much at stores, and I even more rarely give in to her when she begs, so I don't usually have a hard time saying "no" when she asks for something. On this trip, she saw a stuffed horse of a much more reasonable size --
"only" 28 inches long -- and she asked for it. She's asked for this particular horse before. And Ian, at the same time, picked up another stuffed horse and snuggled it. The two of them together were pretty cute.

And a flash of brilliance hit me -- what if I could get Katie to exchange this horse for the giant one? For $15, we'd have much more space in her bedroom, and she doesn't really play with Jewel (the giant horse) anyway. So I made her a bargain: I'd buy her the brown horse if she would give Jewel away to charity, so that a little girl who didn't have any toys could have her to love. She jumped at the chance. I bought the brown horse.

Those of you who have kids know where this is going, right?

Ten minutes after we got home, Dave came to me in the office, saying, "You get to deal with this." Katie was in her room, curled up against Jewel, crying as if her heart would break. "I'm going to miss Jewel," she sobbed. I talked with her about it, reminding her that I only bought the brown horse because she said she'd give up Jewel, and I offered to take the brown horse back to Target. In the end, that's what she decided to do, though there were several sobs of "I wish I could have both." I had her take the brown horse and put it in our room so I could take it back to Target.

Yesterday Ian liberated the horse from our room and played with it for a while, dragging it around the house using the cat's leash. So when Katie came home from school, brown horse was out in the open. Big mistake. Soon she was sobbing again. She tearfully brought me a picture that she'd drawn of the brown horse, to remember it by. Ten minutes later, more tears and a picture of Jewel, because she'd decided to keep the brown horse and give up Jewel. But she didn't think the drawing was good enough, so she wanted me to take a digital picture of her with Jewel. I did, gladly, but couldn't even get her to smile for the camera. More leaking tears and a very sad little girl.

I finally gave in. Who am I to inflict such trauma on her for no apparent reason? I should never have started the process to begin with, but I couldn't follow it through to its conclusion -- not if it was going to cause such ongoing heartache. Sometimes you've just got to pick your battles. I surrendered this one. We now own two stuffed horses.

And Katie is one happy little girl.