I remember once, when she was about 4 years old, we had gone shopping at Toys R Us (are any of those still open, BTW?) At the time, Daughter was VERY into Polly Pockets. She had about eleventy thousand of them. (We bequeathed them to my friend Lauren, whose child is about 7 or 8 years younger than mine):
(picture Lauren sent me the day after we gave her kiddo the box of Pollys. I don't think she's ever really forgiven me for it. This was over 5 years ago and I bet she still occasionally sucks up pieces while vacuuming)
So anyway...back to the "lesson." Daughter had some of her very own money to spend. She'd gotten it for losing a tooth or something. I think it was about $10. We went to TRU and headed back to the Polly Pocket section. They had several little sets...some of them were on clearance. The clearance sets were $7.75. The not-clearance sets were $12.95. Of course, she immediately fell in love with a not-clearance set. I knelt down to her level and calmly and lovingly told her that she did not have enough money to buy that one. But if she wanted to help me out with some chores the following week, I'd give her $5 and we could come back and get it...or she could choose one of the sets that she could afford. Of course, neither of those options suited her at all.
Her big ole hazel eyes looked up at me pleadingly...and she said in her sweetest, most angelic voice, "But PLEASE, mommy!" Then she batted her eyes and flashed me her dimples. And of course, I wanted to give her what would make her happy...but I recognized this as a MOMENT...and that I should make a life lesson out of it. I told her, "Now, baby, you have to realize that looking cute isn't going to always get you what you want." Now, I know that I'm her mother, and you probably think I'm biased...but at four years old, my daughter may well have been the absolute cutest thing alive on the planet. Don't believe me?
(And she's not even TRYING to be cute in this picture...you can't even see her dimples.)
After a few more minutes of discussion (to give her credit, kiddo would do a little begging, but she was never one to throw an outright fit), I told her I had some more things to get...at that age, you have to keep a stock of boy and girl gifts because it seems like there's a birthday party every other weekend. She came willingly with me...clutching the two different Polly Pocket sets: the one she WANTED, and the one that would do.
I finished what else I had to do and we headed for the cash register. I checked out and paid for my purchase. The kiddo pulled her $10 bill out of her pocket, and put the two sets on the conveyor belt. She told the clerk, "I really want to buy the first one, but this is all the money I have. I wanted to ask you to check and make sure it isn't supposed to be on sale too." (She didn't just look cute...she was quite the charmer too.) The cashier scanned the toy and $12.95 appeared on the screen. Kiddo's face just turned sad and she let out a gusty sigh...and began reaching for the runner-up toy. The sales lady, taking all of this in (and I am sure that the lack of a sudden outburst played well into my daughter's favor) said, "Well, hold on. You know sweetie, I think you're right and that both of these toys are supposed to be on sale." She scanned the cheaper toy, bagged the $12.95 toy and handed it to my daughter.
I got us back out to the car, loaded my bags and buckled her up in her toddler seat in the back. As I was pulling out of the parking lot and into traffic, she was already back there tearing into her new acquisition. And I VERY clearly heard her say to herself, "Cute may not always get you what you want. But it did today."