Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our daughter: the tart

Back when I was pregnant, like most pregnant women, I used to pray that Alison would be healthy and get only the good parts of Jeff and me. I remember seeing an ad in a magazine back then that showed a man daydreaming about how great his girlfriend/wife was because she was smart, sexy and could spout baseball statistics with the best of his buddies. I wanted Ali to be something like that: a fun loving girl who could hold her own with anyone.

So now I'm remembering that you're supposed to be careful what you wish for.

Alison has been asked out to a birthday party for a friend at school. That's not so unusual. What's unusual is that its' Ali and three boys. They're going to dinner and a movie.

Also last week, while the kids were all visiting the Secret Santa shop at school, Alison dutifully spent her money on gifts for her parents, Grandpa and aunts and uncles. Caleb, turns out, bought Alison a ring. A big ol' honkin' ring. And no, Caleb isn't one of the three other boys she has a date with on Saturday.

"It was only 50-cents, Mom," she said, downplaying the importance of getting jewelry from a boy.

What' s a parent to do in a situation like this? It was only a couple weeks ago I was batting back my Bunco friends who were chastising me (again) for telling Alison more adult things than they think she know. I responded somewhat wickedly to that, secure in the knowledge that Alison would go in the world where boys meet girls forewarned and thus forearmed.

I didn't expect her to be dating at 7. And then with three boys at once.

She is a clever girl, though.

When she got home from her Secret Santa excursion, Jeff asked her how much of her $30 budget she'd spent.

"Just $22, Dad," she said.

"Well where's my change?"

"Your what?"

"My change. You know, the $8 left over from your shopping. That's MY money," he said, conveniently forgetting that it was actually me who'd fronted her shopping spree.

"Uh, well, Dad. It's actually my money," she said.

"How do you figure? I gave it to you to buy Christmas presents with."

"Yes. I went shopping with it. So it's my money."

"No, it's my money. You shopped; but you didn't spend it all. You give the money that's left over back to me."

"But you gave it to me."

"I only gave it to you to shop with. Now hand it over."

She considered this. "How about we split it?" she countered.

At this point, I'm sure he wavered, he was so proud of her negotiating skills. But he ordered her to go get her backpack, dig out the change and return it to him.

"OK Dad," she sighed. "Hey, Dad, guess what?"


I don't know what came after the "what?" but it was enough to distract him. He was recounting the coversation to me as I started to recover from my sickbed that night. It must have been about 11 o'clock, and I was drifting back to sleep. But I was alert enough to inform him that he'd been had. She'd never gone to the backpack and he was still short $8. Or I am.

"That thievin' little cow!" he said, marveling at her skill. He didn't actually call her a cow, but this is a family blog and I'd prefer she not know what kinds of words her father uses when she's not around.

To the best of my knowledge, she still has the money. He wrote himself a note to remind him to get it back the next day, but I don't think he ever followed through.

Maybe she should date three boys at a time. Maybe then they'll have a chance...

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