So, my daughter and I were at Target getting cleaning supplies and batteries when I decided to let her play in the toy section. She wanted to play with a Mickey Ride On Airplane and was so excited at the noises and spinning propeller. Of course I also thought it was really cool, too and played with all the knobs and switches.
Well, the inevitable came. Time to leave. So my daughter asked if she can have the airplane. I told her “No, Mommy can’t get it now.” She stamped her foot, yelled, “NO! MY AIRPLANE!” and stuck out her bottom lip before sticking her thumb in her mouth and welling up with huge, ocean tears. I gave her a hug which she tried to push me away, saying “NO! My airplane. I want my airplane.” I looked her in the eye and said “I can’t get it now. I’ll get you one when I get a job, OK? Mommy loves you but I can’t afford the airplane. Maybe we can come back and visit it, OK?” She mumbled back, “No. My airplane.” I gave her a hug and kiss and said, “Can you say buh-bye to the airplane? We’ll see you later?” She said “No.” and kept sucking her thumb. So I gave the airplane a hug, patted it and said “Bye, see you later. Have a good weekend,” and started to move away.
My daughter paused, then said “Mommy! Wait!” and came running after me. Then she grabbed my leg, turned and said “Bye airplane! Have good weekend! See you later!” and blew a kiss to it.
UGH! My heart nearly broke, but I managed to keep moving. Now this whole exchanged was witnessed by two other people. Another mom and her daughter playing with dolls, and an elderly man passing by. The mom gave me a sympathetic look, and the man beamed a smile at me and said, “Your daughter is beautiful and so gracious. I hope you have a great afternoon.” I thanked him, saying “She is an amazingly good girl. You have a good afternoon, too” and moved on to get the last things on our list.
With my daughter wanting to run and check everything out, it took us about 30 minutes to get to the front of the store again. When I got there, I paid for all our stuff and started to head out the door with a once again happy and smiling little girl. As I passed the Customer Service desk, I was flagged down by a breathless manager who practically JUMPED over the counter to get to me. Slightly confused as to why a manager would need to discuss anything with me, I wondered if my daughter had snagged something I didn’t see, and we were going to have to deal with a mini-shoplifting drama.
But he came running up to me and said “Wait! Were you the mom in the toy section with a little girl in red pigtails playing on an airplane?” Warily, I answered. “Um, yes.”
He replied, “Good! Good! We have something for you!” and he started waving to a clerk behind the counter who bent down to pick up something. When he stood up, it was the Mickey Airplane.
I must have looked really confused, but the manager was so excited he was breathless. “A man purchased this about 15 minutes ago. He said he was giving a gift to a little girl with red pigtails. He paid in cash. Said he didn’t want to return it but would we hold it for the girl and her mom when they leave the store. I’m so excited. I’ve never been part of a Pay it Forward!”
I still stood dumbfounded. I could only guess it was the same man who had wished us a great afternoon. I protested that I couldn’t accept it, but at that exact moment, my daughter reached out and said “My airplane! My airplane. Can I have it? Please?” I smiled. The manager smiled and handed it to me. I put it in the cart behind my daughter who reached over and spun the propeller and said, “Thank you.” The manager actually gushed!
I don’t know for a fact that it was the elderly man who wished me a great afternoon, but it is my best guess. I am very thankful for the stranger that brought joy into my daughter’s life and I’m thankful my daughter has a new ride. It’s amazing the magic she brings into the world.