The Gifted Bag

After the buzzer rang, I pressed the button that unlocks the door to the street downstairs without asking who was there. I knew it was Buddy-roo returning home after a spontaneous play-date-turned-dinner-and-homework-date with a friend in the neighborhood. Normally a social activity of this nature on a school night would raise eyebrows, but this one included homework support from a native French speaking parent, so it was allowed. No doubt they covered twice the ground in half the time.

I opened and left ajar the door to our apartment, so that after climbing the four flights of stairs she would not have to ring the doorbell and wait again. This is our typical letting-people-in-the-door routine. How long it takes to walk from the entrance, up the stairs to our door depends on the urgency and fitness of the arriver. When it’s one of the girls, if they don’t get distracted by a neighbor in the courtyard or on the stairs, it’s usually within 3 or 4 minutes that you can hear their little feet and out-of-breath voices as they enter the apartment and close the door behind them.

A good long five minutes went by without any little feet. I went out to check, leaning out the long window of the hallway to peer into the courtyard. No sight of Buddy-roo, but then the distinct sound of her crying in the stairwell below. I called down to her. Her friend’s mother – who happens also to be a friend of mine – answered back. “It’s okay. We’re just having a little situation down here.”

I looked out the window at the not-quite-night-sky settling in on the rooftops and chimneys. It’d been such a calm, peaceful evening. We’d been downright civilized, De-facto, Short-pants and I, reading together, quietly. The wailing at the bottom of the stairs, a harsh reminder of what had been missing, up until now.

I pattered down in my stocking feet to where Buddy-roo was standing, in the foyer with her friend, the two of them in angry tears. The friend’s mother looked up at me apologetically. I tried to telepath to her a look that said, “No worries, this could so easily have happened on my watch.”

The story spilled out. The purse, a tacky, pink, vinyl, Winx-merchandized accessory (I didn’t buy it for her – it was given to us) had allegedly been a gift from Buddy-roo to her friend during a play-date a few weeks ago. She’d forgotten about it, I’m sure, until she saw it again on this visit. She probably made a remark like, “Oh, I left my bag here,” causing the severe dropping of the jaw of her little friend, who’d thought it was a present to keep, which is probably how it was presented. The discussion turned debate, and then turned debacle. The lovely afternoon-into-evening play-date was ending in a big fight, all about where that bag should live.

I said the trash would be an excellent location. (Not out loud, though.)

The objective, at this point, was to calm the girls down so they could part, if not as friends, at least without tears. But this ugly purse was the stumbling block. Buddy-roo insisted it was a loan, not a gift. Her friend believed that it was hers to keep. Neither one of them would give an inch – they were absolutely stubborn – leaving the mothers to negotiate.

After a few halfhearted and unsuccessful tries at mediation – in retrospect how ridiculous that I even tried – I put my foot down. I was tired, it was late and this was annoying. “I don’t know what else to do, guys, we’ll have to sort this out later because it’s time for bed. Now.” I shrugged at the other mother, who I’m sure would have loved to have done the same 30-minutes before, but felt she ought to try to bring Buddy-roo home to us in happier spirits. I dragged my wailing daughter up the stairs. I didn’t even notice, until after she’d gotten into bed and I was doing my own straightening-up-before-bed ritual, that the purse had been on her shoulder at the time, so it’s ended up back on our property.

And it’s sitting there, that ugly pink bag with all those cheezy smiling characters on it, taunting me. In the morning after the girls leave for school and I’m all alone, it whispers to me, “whose am I?” It makes me feel compelled to take the high motherly moral ground, even though I’d like nothing better than to bury my head in the pillows of my bed and wake up when Buddy-roo is twenty-six. (No doubt, she would have appropriated all my jewelry while I was slumbering through her dramatic puberty and adolescence…)

I’m of two minds. The first: we have to have a talk about it, and Buddy-roo needs to either return the bag that she gifted to her friend or make a real apology and come to terms with the misunderstanding. The second: Just drop it. It’s a silly fight between two 7-year-olds and though I’m still thinking about it (as is my friend, the other mother) the girls have both forgotten it. Next time somebody “gifts” something, we simply need to step in and model how to clarify: is it a gift for good, or just a little while?

One is correct. The other is convenient.

What would you do?

7 Responses to “The Gifted Bag”

  • Suzanne Says:

    How to answer? What I would do would depend dramatically on the level of fatigue I had to deal with. But I guess I wouldn’t feel good about the whole situation without having the talk at some point. In any case, better you than I my friend. Good luck!

  • Delphine Says:

    There is often the same between m’y girls and their cousins who is a very close friend too. I have to confess i used to step for my niece against my daughters. I would rather make them unhappy than feeling they were not good mates. So it used to end up either with an “if you said you gave it, then you give. Full stop.” or a “let go, it’s just a ourse, ok she said it’s a gift but nobody’s perfect let her have it back.”
    I was awful. I know. So i’m afraid you’re already so much better at it than me…
    Maybe try and use Some of Jacques salomé’s tricks ? Sometimes it helps.
    Or Just for fun from mom to mom. Sometimes i’d like to use “le partage de Salomon” Just cut the damn purse in two d give each one bit. It’d be suuuuuch a relief to be allowed

  • Caroline Fraley Says:

    Oh dear, what would I do? Well it sounds like the bag was initially gifted so maybe should be returned with apologies (not from mums though! so that the main protagonists in this play can really be friends again…)- and then wouldn’t you be happy that it is no longer hanging in your house? :). My philosophy here would be that one needs to learn to take responsibility for one’s action – even for those we do not remember taking or feel deep down we might or might not have taken… – and there is no age for that, and this is maybe one of them for Buddy Roo? How about she gets opportunities to ‘earn’ a few cents in the next couple of weeks and get to save for a new bag, her own second bag since she has given her first one away – and how wonderfully kind this is as a gesture to her friend! 🙂 And what opportunity for mum to help her choose a bag that does not talk in bad language back to mums! 🙂 Good luck! My lot used to be rugby balls or Pokemon cards and boys are simply easier to reason and negotiate with… can’t go shopping with them though…

  • dee dee sue Says:

    Rough going either way, but I like the Solomon solution and think that one half of that bag would be just the thing to accessorize the new Scarecrow in the country!

  • Amy Sparrow Says:

    Hmmm. What does Buddy Roo say? You said “She probably made a remark like, “Oh, I left my bag here,”. But now that she’s calmed down what does she recall saying? or feeling like she did? If she gave it to her then…well, you know. That’s simple. I’d like to know what she thinks.

    • MDBlogs Says:

      Good call Amy. I tried to get at this but there’s already been so much whirlwind around the event that Buddy-roo clammed up. I’m waiting for a quieter moment to bring it up again. Or not. Tonight her friend (and mom and dad) were over for a spontaneous apero-turned-dinner and there was a coveted brush given and we took the “convenient” route to clarify, and everyone giggled a bit because of the reference to the other day. It seems that was enough to stress the point. So we march forward, more aware and better equipped…

  • Delphine Says:

    I saw your comment on my blog. Why not at a quiet time ask buddy roo to draw “the” moment and how she felt, or, in order not to stress the point too much, to make two drawings: her friend and her now and her friend and her before… And then talk. To help her you could ask her to tell you what she would like you to draw… So you to make an effort and draw with her

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