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Was it genuine concern for others, or am I being too hopeful?

In order to keep the peace toward the end of our shopping trip to Meijer on Sunday, I asked Gladys for a few pennies so The Kid could ride Sandy the penny pony. Sandy is an iconic part of the regional chain's history, enduring longer than tag-lines like "Meijer Thrifty Acres" and concepts like Sagebrush or SourceClub.

(Sorry for the Meijer trivia, I was an employee during high school and college. Some memories are burned into my head, including some of the lyrics to Merry Meijer Christmas.)

Anyway, The Kid loves carousels, so I thought Sandy would be a welcome diversion. I was right. After her second ride, I had exhausted my collection of pennies. When she got down, she was busy inspecting the horse and asking me to name all the parts of the saddle. Then she noticed three pennies sitting on Sandy's base, and wanted me to put them in so she can ride again.

"Not today, baby. You've already had two rides, and those pennies are for kids whose Mama or Papa don't have have money to spend on the ride," I said.

"Okay," she replied as she put the penny she grabbed back with the others and began another thorough inspection of Sandy.

It is entirely possible that The Kid wasn't really interested in another ride, so she put the penny down. Knowing my daughter, that is not likely. I want to think that she is starting to learn empathy. She already understands the words for many emotions, and uses them in context. She knows when Mama or Papa is sad, and will give us hugs to try cheering us. When she thinks someone is upset, she will ask if they are okay.

Empathy is a tough concept, especially for someone who isn't quite three years-old yet. But a proud Papa can dream, right?


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