For her eighth birthday my mother sent my daughter $150. It arrived just before Christmas.

Aysia wanted to use the gift to get something called An American Girl Doll. I never heard of such a thing, so together we looked it up on Amazon.

I saw the price, around $150, and my freak-out took the form of an unsolicited lecture, the kind that children all over the world automatically tune out.

I told her I would not allow her to spend her money on such a thing, ‘educating’ her on the trappings of status. She could get a doll for $25 and have just as much fun with it. It’s the imagination we bring to playing with a doll, or with anything, that makes it fun.

I thought I was steering her to the high road, turning her away from the trappings of materialism.

But I was throwing a wet blanket on something innocent and sweet: the purity of desire.

I paused long enough to get off my soapbox and connect with her. I could feel her deflating, withdrawing, going inside herself.

Yes, there was a high road here, and it was I who had veered off it.

After I took her to school I had a walk with a friend and we talked about how I could have handled it differently. If I had an open mind and heart, I would have asked Aysia questions about what she would like to do with the doll. I could have put my feelings to the side long enough to meet her where she was at and celebrate her desire.

And it was, after all, ‘her’ money, not mine.

Our desires, unless we are seeking to hurt others, are expressions of our innocence. Desires are our Life Force, seeking to play, create and expand our existence.

Make our desires wrong, or make ourselves wrong for having them, and we cast ourselves right out of the garden of joy and into the desert of unworthiness.

I felt a flush of regret about how I treated her.

And relief, because I got the lesson.

I still wasn’t clear about letting her get the doll, but I was clear that from now on, whenever Aysia expressed a desire, I would do my best to celebrate it with her without making her wrong for wanting it.

When I picked Aysia up from school I told her how sorry I was for the way that I had talked to her, and asked for her forgiveness.

Aysia and I went straight from school to meeting two of her friends in town. We were all strolling down a street on our way to play in a park when Aysia spotted an American Girl doll in a store window. It was slightly used, and priced at $75.

Aysia was drooling with desire. She looked at me with puppy eyes, and her “Please?” was the purest, sweetest request I had ever heard.

But she, as all eight year old’s, knew exactly how to turn on the charm and manipulate grown-ups with her cuteness.

I did not want to be silly putty wrapped around her finger.

I paused, took a breath, checked in, and heard a resounding yes from my heart’s wisdom.

We went to the park and Aysia and her two girlfriends proceeded to play with the doll, dress her, comb her hair, and name her. I witnessed such joy in their process. And felt so good about it.

A part of me, all intellectual and grumpy, had a shift in perception, softening and opening. The Grinch that almost stole my daughter’s Christmas learned a beautiful lesson that day. And my heart grew a size or two in the process.

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