Posted on November 14th, 2013
Today at Audubon, Pea found a plush wolverine. And had to have it, never mind that it was Audubon and we were there for birds. We saw: Anna’s Hummingbird (male), Spotted Towhee, Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, and Downy Woodpecker; Aristophanes the Raven said “hi” to me, and I am not making that up, because the first time I thought I was maybe going crazy, but he did it a few more times.
Now, we have a one per species rule for plush animals (caveat for dogs and bears and emperor penguins and dolphins and staph; yes, she has a mommy staph and baby staph). The rule has turned out to be something of a challenge, and so we are always surprised and delighted when friends present her with animals like, say, anteaters, hermit crabs, camels, or a fennic fox (okay, that last one was me). She bought herself a star-nosed mole.
So a wolverine. It was $16. With a member discount, less than $15. I’m not buying any more plush animals outside of holidays, though, so I told her she could pay me from her saved allowance when we got home or put it on her Christmas list. It was her call.
She named her Sally.
What can I say? She’s six. She was a little sad because she didn’t want me to take any money with Lincoln on it, but she has no pre-frontal cortex processing worth mentioning yet. A conscience: yes. She recently came to me in tears because she remembered a time when a boy wanted one of her toys and she hadn’t shared with him and she felt awful that she hadn’t.
Our day was actually a long one–we had the day’s lessons done by 10:30 (we started around 7) and I even forced grocery shopping in the mix–we were both tired, and it ended at her piano lesson, rescheduled from another day because I was sick. She knew her songs, but I was afraid we’d done too much and it would be a disaster.
We waited in the foyer.
And then the door opened and a beautiful girl emerged and was introduced to Pea. Pea’s piano teacher is also a music therapist who works with autistic as well as neurotypical kids. The girl grabbed Sally. Pea blinked and said, “You can hold her for…five minutes.” (She later amended the time upward.) And then Pea offered her the red bird in her other hand. (We don’t often leave the house without an animal, and both were selected to attend the lesson.)
Pea showed her the necklace she was wearing, wasn’t phased at being hit at (or Sally suddenly flying over her head). She rolled with it. She was awesome. Somewhere in the middle of this, she calmly asked why the girl wasn’t talking, and was cool with the explanation that some kids have a hard time getting their thoughts out verbally.
I later learned this was one of the first times this girl–and I cannot describe to you how angelic she looked, or how much she clearly had going on in her mind–had really interacted with another kid.
Later, in the car, I said, “I’m really proud of you. You shared your toys when you were surprised and didn’t know why she was acting the way she was. You were really patient and kind. I want to do something nice for you, too. So you don’t have to pay me back for Sally.”
I realized the door I’d opened and I could practically hear her working out permutations. So I added, “But…don’t expect an animal every time you do something nice.”
Pea and Sally at Powell’s