It had been a long day, and we were in the throes of bedtime when Summerly came into our room where I was rifling through a laundry basket and said, “I feel like I want to do a favor for you.” Well, this was new. Not that she’s an unhelpful person, but vocalizing her desire to do something unspecified for me out of kindness was pretty unprecedented. I said, “Thank you! I’d love that! I’ll think about a favor I’d appreciate,” and kept clawing through the laundry (WHERE is that black uniform shirt she wants to wear?!). About ten seconds later, Summerly came back into our room to declare, “I left my bag from the dentist in the car, but I really want to use my new toothpaste!” I told her she could bring the bag in tomorrow after school, or I’d bring it in later that night if I went to check the mail. She said, “I’d really like to use my new toothpaste tonight!” Well, the kid had had an awesome day. She’d been uncomplaining at the dentist that morning and fun to have around on our apple-picking excursion, acting impressively at the end of our time at the orchard when she could easily have made a fuss in a situation involving disappointment, which other kids weren’t weathering so well in the moment. When we got home, she asked if she could go upstairs and clean up her room, at which point she also made her bed (this kid’s room is typically a disaster zone). She’d been cooperative and patient throughout the entire evening, too, and wasn’t presenting her desire for the toothpaste in an unpleasant or entitled way at all. She was already ready to brush her teeth without having been asked while her brothers were decidedly NOT READY, which is the case practically every night. This was all on the heels of the day before, which had been VERY tough for her, culminating in a screaming fit that lasted at least thirty minutes. I wanted to reward her for turning things around and showing particular aplomb at the orchard. And the kid was excited about toothpaste, for god’s sake.
I knew it would probably take her longer to figure out how to unlock my car and actually locate the bag (this child has trouble following simple, explicit, repeated instructions to find things), so because Brian was attending to Arlo and Liam actually appeared to finally be putting on his pajamas, I said I’d go get the bag from my car. “Oh, no, Mommy; it’s ok!” she said. “I’ll get it for you! See? I’m doing you a favor!”
Well played, young daughter. Well played.