My girl turned ten years old. Ten! How did that happen? Wasn't it just yesterday I took a tiny, wide-eyed, squawking bundle wrapped in pink home from the hospital? Did that first smile and those first steps really happen so many years ago?
My girl is ten.
She is better than I am. She makes me proud.
I have a vivid memory from childhood that stands out in my brain. I was perhaps five or six at the time and I had a friend come over to play. We'd decided to play a game of Candy Land. As my mother had taught me, I offered my guest first pick of the pawn she wanted to use for the game. She picked the red gingerbread man. The red pawn that I always used when I played with my mother. I let my friend use the red pawn and I let her go first.
I remember this being a big deal for me. Taking the second turn in the game and not using the red pawn had felt like such a huge sacrifice for me. I can clearly recall my inward struggle of wanting to do the right thing and to be a good friend but also wanting to make myself happy. I still remember how proud of myself I felt that I had made the right choice.
I suppose at that age, Candy Land was a pretty big deal for me.
Fast forward years later to Miss J....
When Miss J was turning six, she made it clear to me that she did not want birthday gifts. She wanted to take up a collection for a local food pantry/soup kitchen. She was in kindergarten. It was all her idea.
I asked her if she was sure. I remember her reply:
"Mama, do I really need another Barbie? I have everything I need and there are people who don't have dinner." She had looked at me as if I had asked her the most ridiculous of questions.
That year, she collected over six hundred dollars.
The letter she received from the director of the food pantry said that money would feed two hundred families for one month.
Every year since then, Miss J has donated money to the same food pantry in lieu of gifts.
I struggled to share my red pawn from a game of Candy Land while Miss J gives so freely, so joyfully.
She celebrated her tenth birthday, but I got the gift.