"I just wanna tiss, it, kay?"

It was her standard line to get away with murder of the four-year-old variety. Earnest eyes, furrowed brow and nodding head, practiced assurances she'd deliver on that promise.  Saucer-sized baby blues have never pooled more deeply and I'd swear a halo hovers over her tangle of curls.  Spun gold.  

She awaits my response, chubby hands already reaching for the prize, this time a tacky tabby frozen in porcelain, $1.99 at The Dollar Tree.  Last time it was an Ariel snow globe from the Disney Store, $59.95.  In a toddler's economy, there is no difference; mama's pocketbook would beg to differ.

Stern eyes give way to soft permission, "Just be careful," I warn, knowing in advance her care will be tender and loving.  

Cupped hands at eye level, she briefly studies her treasure. Ever so gently she brings the kitty to her lips and kisses her before dutifully returning her to the shelf.

There is giving and receiving in that kiss.

She looks toward me and beams sun, proud of herself and rightly so; few grown-ups demonstrate the restraint she's shown.  I know she desperately wants to take that kitty home–she's a collector of miniatures and figurines–but today is a "looking" day not a buying day.  

It strikes me that today is payday:  I think of 




fits were thrown in anger when she didn't get what she wanted, but somewhere along the way she learned.  A mother's resolve and intention not to be manipulated by whining and tantrums– my resolve and intention–paid off!  Maybe not every time but each instance is reason enough for celebration.

She intuitively knows this, too, radiant countenance evidence.  

* * *

It will be years before she understands and fully appreciates the type of family into which she had been born.  Comprehension will illumine as she enters the lives of those who want nothing more to escape their family's fractures, pasts spattered with rage and disappointment and inconsistency.  

By then all her kiss-covered statues will have been crammed into boxes to live in the attic.  

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