Everyone Wins

by gillis

This is a travel team tournament weekend for our family. It’s the last one of the season as well as the one requiring the most “travel.” Yesterday my daughter and I made an event of it and went shopping at a tony mall along the way. The shopping in our rural county is limited, and sad, for the most part. We buy many things online and we return many things we buy online. It’s actually a treat for us to try things on in a brick and mortar store as we only get to do it a few times a year.

On our agenda yesterday were pants and shorts for school as well as dresses suitable for Bat Mitzvahs this spring and summer. What my daughter fell in love with was a swingy, sleeveless tunic with a modest little cut out on her upper back, mostly covered up by her shoulder length hair. It struck me as a fairly nondescript claret colored top, but to her it was the height of thirteen year old sophistication. She did look lovely in it, but she looks lovely in most things, and I could only see it coming off of the hanger in her closet for a family event or a dinner out where she wants to “look nice.” I didn’t think she would wear it to school.  If push came to shove, I guess I liked the shirt about $19.99 worth, but the shirt was double that price. I did not want to crush her spirit, I had done that during our last shopping trip for “back to school” clothes when I gently but firmly refused to buy her a peasant blouse for fifty dollars because she needed so many items and a sheer blouse requiring hand washing was not one of them. Our budget is a tight one, like those of most middle class families, and we go without a lot of luxury items and experiences. Still, my children have many nice things and our family is firmly in the middle of the middle class, unlike my family growing up, which spent years hanging onto the lower rungs of middle class by our worn and weathered fingertips. Could I just indulge her this one impractical top?  I went back and forth in my mind. I could forego the moisturizer and mascara I wanted and she could have it. Yes, that’s what I would do. 

As we walked up to the cashier, she swung the top onto the counter and pulled out a little cow shaped wallet saying, “I’m buying it Mom. I brought the allowance  money I’ve been saving.”  I was speechless. We were both smiling ear to ear.

An hour later, as we were driving towards our destination, my cellphone rang. It was my husband calling to tell us we had forgotten to pack the bag containing my daughter’s basketball shoes. He scooped it up and was bringing it to us, but he would not be there in time for her game at 6:00 p.m. I was incredulous, hadn’t I put that bag in front of the door? Didn’t she tell me she had put all of her things in the car? She remembered moving the bag to get the dog’s food out, feeding the dog being one of the chores which earns her an allowance, but she didn’t remember taking it out to the car. She began to cry as I urged Siri to help us locate a sporting goods store in our vicinity, budget be damned. We’d driven more than three hours in a freakish vernal equinox snowstorm and she would play in this game even if it meant buying unnecessary, expensive basketball shoes.

We drove to the location my phone chirped out, only to find an empty store front. With no time to spare, we texted and emailed anyone and everyone on her team to see if anyone had an extra pair of remotely suitable shoes as we drove to the basketball center. Through tears she sputtered, “How could I be so stupid? I can’t believe I did that.,” to which I answered, “Believe it, we did it, now let’s find a someone with shoes to borrow.”

People were coming out of the woodwork to offer quasi-appropriate shoes. They were all better than the winter boots she had on. She chose a pair of sneakers that were too big for her but looked the most athletic to appease the referees and coaches. She was allowed to start in the game, the team played well, and they won. We all won yesterday.