Until she saw all the paint chips. Altruism was gone, because COLOR! I told her she have some squares for herself and she went down the line: I want that one and that one and look at that one and I love that one and that one, too! And, Mama! Look at the one here! I can't reach it!
And then the anonymous loudspeaker voice in the sky spoke unto us:
ATTENTION CUSTOMERS. THE STORE IS CLOSING. PLEASE MAKE YOUR SELECTIONS AND PROCEED TO THE REGISTERS. ASSOCIATES, PLEASE WALK THE AISLES AND ASSIST CUSTOMERS WITH THEIR FINAL SELECTIONS.
And E shrieked and dropped her paper jewels all over the floor. She leapt into my arms and began crying and screaming incoherently.
She thought we were getting locked in the store and would never get to go home again.
Luckily the light fixture was already paid for, because you can bet I didn't get my paint chips.
Last night we went back to Home Depot, well before its closing hour, because the literal-minded girl was still an unsatisfied color-hungry collector. E was drawn to the single-color square chips and amassed one of every bold pink, red, orange, yellow, blue, purple and a single neon green. No whites for her. No grays. No dull pastels. The girl knows what she likes.
She's been playing with them nonstop. What's this one called, Mama? "It says 'Blueberry Mountain,' love." Are mountains made out of blueberries? That's silly! What's this one called?
We discussed them for the entire drive home last night. She played with her chips the way poker junkies can't stop shuffling their decks. She slept with them in her bed last night. She brought them in the car this morning and we discussed them through our whole drive. Citrus! What's citrus? "That's a kind of fruit. That's lemons and limes and oranges and clementines." Oranges and clementines? Mama, you're being silly. That's the same thing.
E left her colors in the car during the day but resumed her fingering on the car ride home. Tutti frutti? That's a very silly name! And then she began speaking to each of them: Tutti frutti, I love you because you make me think of candy and of eating watermelon and of my sister's shoes and you're kind and delightful and so shiny and so smooth and so papery.
She declared that her paint chips are her toy of choice for Friday show-and-tell tomorrow.
This evening E wanted to examine my paint chip collection. They're not fun, she told me, because they're too big and have too many colors on one paper and the white lines between the colors aren't pretty. But they're still good for spreading across the floor and dancing with. The colors are still good for looking at, even if they're not good enough for playing games.
I love this. Awakening an aesthetic passion in her is a privilege, and moreso that it echoes a passion of my own.
She's well on her way to cultivating a strong and unique point-of-view. Proof positive: you didn't think that I was the one who added pink-and-orange striped socks to her red-and-cream striped dress, did you?