The Best $60 I Ever Spent

“Daddy, come here I want to show you something.”

Normally when Lily says this her eyes are wide with anticipation. Despite the fact that a decade of experience tells her otherwise, she actually believes she’s going to talk me into buying whatever treasure she’s found.

On Saturday though, she looked anxious. But she’s strung higher than the fifth string of a banjo so a look of anxiety on her face is nothing new. So I didn’t think much about it as we walked from the back of the 47K Marketplace towards the front and out the door. 

On the sidewalk her bike was parked next to Lu’s. The girls have been super excited all weekend because we’ve finally allowed them to get out and ride around the neighborhood some. They feel like big girls. 

Of course they were lectured beforehand. 

With big freedom comes big responsibility. 

Stay together. Pay attention to traffic. Obey the street signs, and remember to use your hand signals. 

During our stop at the 47K Marketplace Lily showed me just what it means to be responsible. 

As we stood there on the sidewalk she pointed out a framed canvas about 12 inches wide and 18 inches tall. The canvas was nearly empty and perfectly white. Hanging from the top of the frame was a small wreath and below it a single word, “Welcome.”

It is very much an adult thing, and does not look like something and 9 year old girl would want. 

Still, I’m waiting for the sales pitch. 

Instead she kneels down and points at black scuff mark on the otherwise pristine canvas. With tears welling up she said, “Daddy, I was parking my bike and when I did I accidentally hit this with my tire and made those black marks.”

“Well,” I said, “I guess we will have to buy it.”

“No daddy!!!!”

She thought she was in trouble. The look of anxiety had shifted to fear. She clutched my hand desperately as I leaned over to pick it up. 

“Listen, you have to be careful. We talk all the time about paying attention to your surroundings and watching what you are doing. If you mess up something that belongs to someone else you have to make it right. And the way to make this right is to buy it.”

She started to cry. 

Little did she know that I was in the throes of a “proud daddy moment.” 

“Relax baby girl, you’re not in trouble. Accidents happen and you did the right thing by telling me. I’m really proud of you.”

Back inside the owner, Kay, was super nice about it. She insisted that we not buy it. “It’s my fault,” she said, “I put it to close to the sidewalk.”

“I can clean it up,” she said.

“Let me give you discount,” she said.

No, no, and no. 

The piece wasn’t just dirty. It was damaged, albeit slightly so. Perhaps not even noticeable. 

But it was damaged nonetheless, and it wasn’t Kay’s fault. Nor was it the artist’s fault. It was only Lily’s fault. 

And while I appreciated Kay’s offer, for me to not purchase it would have discounted the very quality that Lily was demonstrating. 

The next day we were out on another ride and Lily wanted to stop back in. After asking me if it was OK (which I really appreciated) Kay pulled Lily to the side and told her how much she'd been impressed by her honesty the day before. “A lot of people wouldn’t have said anything about it,” she said, “so I was really impressed that you told your dad.”

Then Kay handed her a $10 gift card for the shop. 

Lily beamed. 

As we walked out she said, “You see daddy, you should always do the right thing. Sometimes you even get rewarded for it.”

Yes baby girl, that’s right. 

Thank you, Kay Klaren, you made my little girl’s day. 

Hopefully I can convince her to spend her $10 on some more candied bacon for me.