Last weekend I took my two daughters to the library.
Before we left the house, my youngest raced up the stairs to her bedroom to grab one of two dollars she owned so she could rent Big Hero Six.
The last time we were at the library, she tried to rent the same movie, but the librarian informed her it would cost one dollar. So this time she came prepared with fifty percent of her personal wealth.
Watching her stand in front of the librarian’s desk anticipating the request for that dollar made my heart swell. She looked so mature; so sure of herself. That dollar in her hand was just a dollar, but it represented something more than just the trading of goods.
It represented her taking the first step on the path toward a self-sustaining existence, one where she would be perfectly capable of doings things on her own.
At the tender age of five, she thinks she can do more by herself than she actually can, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to stop her from trying, even if it means that every little step toward independence she takes is another step away from the little girl I love so dearly.
As parents, it’s our responsibility to ensure our kids are growing in mind and spirit along the way, as their physical selves tend to run a few steps ahead. They’re growing up right before our eyes, but I think we don’t understand how quickly unless we look at pictures from the past and are surprised by the change in their features.
The little girl standing next to her mom at the library will soon be away at school, fending for herself during those first uncomfortable weeks. My hope is that the first dollar spent by herself — her independent self — goes a long way in helping her learn to make decisions on her own when she’s out in the world alone.
It’s funny, but I think spending that money was more about the act than it was about what she got in return.
The movie is due today and she hasn’t bothered to pull it out of the library bag.