Friday, January 8, 2010

Prairie Dress Values

My little girl should have been born a century earlier. She would love to grow up in a cabin in the woods and spend her days picking wildflowers. She would be happy to wear a long prairie dress for every occasion and spend her days preparing meals with her mother and making rag dolls. She has recently started reading "The Little House in The Big Woods" By, Laura Ingalls Wilde and is totally engrossed in it. Naturally, she has decided that she wants a Little House on the Prairie birthday party next month.

So, this morning we went together to the thrift store to hunt for "prairie dresses" for her party. We hunted through aisles of used clothing in search of something that "Laura" would have worn. She oohed and ahhed at each new discovery. And, when we had made our selections we headed to the checkout. She held her favorite dress in her arms because she thought it was so "beautiful". We paid for the items and hurried out of the store through the uncomfortable cold weather to the car. I folded up the stroller and loaded it into the back of the car, put my toddler in her carseat, got in the car and was ready to finally get going when a thought occured to me that it seemed like we had gotten an even better deal than I had expected on those little dresses. I got out my reciept hoping to see that they were just REALLY REALLY cheap.

Unfortunately, the reciept showed that we had not been charged for the pink prairie dress. It was cold outside. The kids were already strapped into their carseats. It was a thrift store for goodness sakes...someone gave that dress to them because they didn't want it! The tag on the dress read $3.95. I looked over my shoulder and heard "what it is mom?" I took a breath, and told the kids that we needed to go back in and pay for the dress.

We waited in line again and when we got to the counter the woman thanked us although I think she may have thought we were a little crazy. My prairie girl happily handed over the money and skipped out the car with me where we all strapped in again and headed to our next errand (which we never made it to because my little one fell asleep so we just decided to give up and go home)

When we got home the dress went on immediately. She spun and laughed and looked at herself in the mirror. She got out the book and compared herself the the pictures
of "Laura" and commented on how she just needed an apron and she would look just like her. She put on her favorite pink boots and wore the outfit all day long while she read her book and researched the internet about true pioneer life (according to The Little House on the Prairie).

As I watched her I wondered if she would remember that moment in the thrift
store. I wondered if when faced with a decision regarding honesty and integrity her mind would flash back to the time we got out of our warm car and trekked back into the second hand store to pay for her four dollar dress when we didn't have to. Maybe she will....maybe she won't. But somehow I think it mattered anyway. I can read her good books and buy her sweet clothes and give great lectures;) but at the end of the day if I want her to learn old fashioned values she will most likely learn it from what she sees me do. But I don't mind a little help from Laura Ingalls Wilde-I'll take whatever reinforcements I can get.

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