“You threw it away! Mom, it was mine!” Furiously she brushed the tears from her eyes.
“I’m sorry, honey, but it was sitting on your dresser, and I thought it was rubbish.”
She stormed out of the kitchen, yelling, “It was my treasure!”
I heard the slam of her door, and the distant sound of her sobbing. Oh boy, I’d blown it, again.
“It” was a Gatorade bottle, filled with hard, red berries that grow on one of the many unidentified trees in our front yard. “It” was a maraca, at least in the eyes of my seven year old. In my eyes, it was nothing more than a container taking up space, cluttering a room already filled to the brim with Teagan’s Treasures.
For as long as I can remember, for almost as long as Teagan has been alive, she has had collections. Collections of rocks, of bugs, of flies, of berries and even snakes — fake ones fortunately, although the real ones can’t be far behind! These are more than collections; these are her treasures, her personal hoard. She cherishes each and every one of them. They all have names, Barbie, Kelly, Jordan, April, Emily…
Sighing, I dried my hands on the dishcloth and moved over to the garbage can. Perhaps, if I dug through the coffee grounds, and the banana peels I would find the darned maraca. When was I going to get this right?
I’m the puritan — I’ve never collected a thing in my life. I’ve moved so many times I seldom grow attached to anything because I know I have to purge it in the future. How on earth did I give birth to a daughter who saw everything as a prize?
With my sleeves rolled up, I poke my arm down past the cold, wet coffee grounds. Ugh, I actually drink that stuff? And what is that? Oh, the chicken skins from the breasts I’m making for dinner. It’s enough to make a vegetarian out of me! Right to the bottom of the can, and almost up to my shoulder, I finally feel the top of the Gatorade bottle. I fish it out, take it to the sink and give it, and myself a good going over with the washcloth.
I knock on her door, “Teagan, can I come in please?”
No answer, so I quietly open the door, and peek my head around the corner. Teagan is sitting on her bed, facing the window, completely engrossed in something in her lap.
“Honey, I found your maraca,” I say gently, placing it on the bed. She moves over slightly, inviting me silently to sit with her. She is tying a piece of string around a brown paper lunch bag. She smiles at me.
“I’m sorry I threw your treasure away.”
“That’s OK, Mom.” One look into her lovely blue eyes rimmed with impossibly long eyelashes and my heart melts.
“What are you making?”
“Yeah, I’m almost done, I am going to put it under the Christmas tree, and you can’t peek, and you’re not allowed to open it until Christmas.”
Impulsively I reach over and hug this child of mine who is so different from me. She returns the hug, and doesn’t let go.
“Teagan,” I whisper, “I promise I won’t throw anymore of your treasures away from now on.”
“Thanks Mom.” She says it so simply, accepting my word without question.
My heart brims over as we get off the bed together and I watch her walk into the living room and tenderly place the brown paper bag, under the tree. I don’t care what’s in there; it doesn’t matter. All I know is my treasure, the one who daily reminds me that my treasures cannot be counted in monetary terms, has given it to me.
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