In the big wide world of “wanting” my daughter had been fairly low maintenance.  Her most frequent requests were for popsicles, pens and little one-dollar notebooks. My husband and I figured we were home free. We just assumed it was like eye color – it settles by two and then is stable forever after; if she didn’t have major purchasing requests by 29 months, she was pretty much going to fall into the “I hate shopping” camp and stay there. We would not have to worry about cars or the latest fashion trends. We’d just weave her a skirt out of plastic shopping bags and get her a bus pass.

Trips to the toy store were more like visits to the children’s museum.  We’d play with the items, experiment with the display babies, make a visit to the train table, and bounce a few balls.

“Time to say goodbye to the toys,” I’d say after about 45 minutes. She’d go around kissing each play thing and calmly tuck the babies into bed. The cashier would scowl at me for lingering so long and not making a purchase. I’d wave apologetically and we’d be out.

It was glorious. As we’d saunter down the street, bag free, I’d glance back through the store window to see other children red-faced and flailing at the register. Though I could not hear them I knew they were shouting, “I want it! I need it!” I’d puff out my chest and pat myself on the back. “Good work self! Don’t know how you pulled it off but this kid craves nothing.”

But then the other day we were visiting a farm and a miniature pony came prancing up to the fence and gently nuzzled her nose against my daughter’s arm. Sage was immediately smitten. I watched as her mouth slowly fell below her chin, then down past her navel, knees, ankles and finally landed with a thud on the dry dirt. She was completely agape. “M-mommy,” she stammered, “I need to have that.”

“That pony?” I asked just for clarification.

“That pony.” She insisted. “I need that little pony. I need to buy that pony.”

I was indignant.

“But that is so cliché! Ponies are what the spoiled little girls in movies always ask for. You can’t ask for a pony. You are supposed to be low maintenance. I’ve been priding myself on that. No pony. No Pony.”

“But I need a pony!” she began to howl. “Shhhh…” I hissed, “What if someone hears you. They will think I’m one of those mothers who never denies her child anything. And besides, we have no place for a pony. We aren’t even allowed to have a cat in our apartment. We are still renting for Christ’s sake. How do you think we could afford a pony?”

“Pony, pony, pony!” she continued as I flopped down on a pile of hey to recalibrate.

“Maybe this is just a fluke,” I assured myself. “That pony is really freakin’ cute after all.  I’m sure Sage will be right back to her spartan self tomorrow.”

But then tomorrow came and again something bizarre occurred. We were sitting on the side of the road waiting for her father to arrive on a Greyhound bus when all of a sudden a motorcycle flew by. Two riders straddled the seat and both sported neon helmets and fringed vests that blew wildly in the breeze.  Sage stood and pointed like she’d spotted a familiar friend in a crowd. “Look Mommy. A motorcycle. Can you buy me a motorcycle?”

I shook my head, “You’re kidding me right.”

“I want one for really real! And I don’t want to share mine like those guys. I want my own. I will ride just me.”

“Sorry honey,” I cooed. “You have to be a lot older and even then you’ll have to kill me off and get Daddy to find you a much less neurotic mother who will not lie in bed at night crying about the fact that you are zooming around with nothing between you and the pavement but a plastic helmet. No. Not now, not later. No motorcycle.”

My two year old looked both shocked and offended, like I’d just poured ice water on her head. “But I need one,” she demanded.

And it occurred to me as I sat there on the side of the road trying to calm her down while also making it perfectly clear that she was never ever getting a motorcycle, that maybe all this time she was just waiting for the big ticket items.  All those docile trips to the toy store, all that contented window-shopping, perhaps it was all just a ploy. She was waiting, adding up the numbers, “That’s fifteen dolls I never asked for, and three pretend shopping carts I simply ignored, eight play kitchens I left at the store, and five Thomas The Tank Engines I did not demand…. That’s got to at least add up to a horse or an automobile… my mom owes me something big for all the tantrums I never threw.”

So, now I find myself longing for the toy store meltdowns. At least there are a limited number of kid centric shops on any one given block. You can spot them from afar and just walk the other way. But trucks and motorcycles and buses just keep coming. Yesterday my daughter begged for an old fashioned convertible, a fire truck, and a Toyota Prius. The ladies at the toy store are going to love me now. I’ll be shoving baby doll after baby doll into a cart just to distract my daughter from her desire to own a jumbo jet.

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