Buying Something for Herself

Buying Something for Herself

From Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul

Buying Something for Herself

The soul is healed by being with children.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Our granddaughter Tanisha jumped down from the giant yellow school bus and ran up the sidewalk, backpack swinging, waving something in her hand. I opened the door and in she flew.

“Papa! Grandma!” she yelled excitedly. “I didn’t know you were coming to visit.”

Papa picked her up and swung her around. “What’s this in your hand?” he asked.

“It’s my report card,” she replied, handing it to him.

Papa turned to me and said, “Look at this, Grandma, it’s all As!”

“Wow! That’s wonderful,” I replied, giving her a hug.

“All As deserve something special. What would you like me to buy you?” Papa asked.

“I don’t know, Papa.”

Digging into his pocket, he produced a five-dollar bill.

“Here you go. You can buy something for yourself. How about that?”

“Thanks, Papa!” she squealed.

“That’s from your Grandma, too,” he said as he gave me a look that asked if it was okay.

Tanisha turned to me and echoed, “Thanks, Grandma.”

“You’re welcome, Sweetheart. We are very proud of you. Spend it wisely,” I added.

As I watched her bound from the room with her treasure, I thought of how we miss this bright-eyed, curly headed little granddaughter of ours. Tanisha had lived the first few years of her life with us in sunny California, while her parents spent their mandatory time at sea with the navy. Now, she is with her mommy and daddy as well as her little brother and sister. They live in military housing in Washington, D.C. At seven, she is already in the second grade and getting so tall we hardly recognize her.

As with most grandparents who visit grandchildren only a few times a year, we try our best to spoil them when we actually see these precious little cherubs! The five dollars for the report card was just part of the spoiling. We did not think about this being more money than she had ever had. We did not realize what an awesome responsibility this was going to be for this seven-year-old little girl.

While on outings during our week’s visit, we asked if there was anything she saw that she wanted to buy with her money. She searched the shelves for the perfect item. She sighed and scrunched up her nose and thought hard as she looked carefully, but she could not find one thing she wanted to buy with her newfound wealth. She said she wanted to save it for something very special.

“When you see it, you’ll know it,” I said. “Don’t worry about it.”

After a week of books and movies, ice cream and Playland at McDonald’s, it was time for Papa and I to return home. We did so with long faces and sad eyes. We were going to miss the fun Tanisha and our other two little grandchildren brought into our lives during our stay. But work beckoned, our vacation at an end.

Once home and back to the daily routine, Papa and I forgot about the report card reward we had left with our eldest granddaughter. It was not until months later that I remembered our gift and asked her, “By the way, what did you buy with that five dollars Papa and I gave you for getting all As on your report card? I hope it was something special.”

“Oh, it was,” she said. “But I didn’t buy anything.”

Confused, I asked, “What do you mean?”

“I spent it. I just didn’t buy anything. I put it in the collection plate at church.”

“Oh,” I said with a proud lump in my throat. “That was very nice of you.”

“There was a special collection at church for poor people. I figured their kids needed it more than me. So when they passed around the plate, I dropped it in,” she said, as if it was no big deal.

“How thoughtful of you.” Tears rolled down my cheeks as I thought of her unselfishness. “I’m proud of you all over again,” I continued. “I love you very much.”

“I love you, too, Grandma. Can I talk to Papa?” she asked.

Papa looked at me with worry. He whispered, “Why are you crying?”

I pushed the phone into his hands and said, “Here, she wants to talk to you.”

We had wanted our granddaughter to buy something special for herself. In the end, that’s exactly what she did. She bought something for herself that we could never have given her. She bought the gift of giving to others, of doing something for someone in need.

Without knowing it, she bought us gifts as well. She bought us the knowledge that we had not failed her during her formative years when she lived with us—and a special pride in calling her granddaughter!

Karen Brandt

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