Driving home from somewhere, an SUV with the spare tire on the tailgate pulls in front of us and Sophie starts to giggle, then says,
"That tire must be cold. It has a coat on. That's goofy."
Sophie has long been fascinated with the fact that some vehicles have spare tires on the tailgate. We're constantly surprised at how observant she can be and it's caused us to be much more aware of what surrounds us when we drive because we never know when she is going to point something out and ask if we've seen it.
What I'm glad about is the fact that Sophie didn't ask WHY (the three year-old's favorite question) the tire had a coat on, but that she came up with the explanation herself. I'm glad because I have no idea what my response could have been that would have given such a needless accessory relevance. So far our little lady hasn't felt the need to accessorize her look other than the barrette that she's required to wear when she goes out in public or eats food (otherwise she tends towards a distinctive Cousin It look) and neither of us leans towards excess in the way of jewelry or other trinkets so I'm sure at some point the question of why will come up.
What I'm also glad about is the fact that Sophie decided that a tire with a coat on is goofy. Tire covers average around $50 for a new one. Even while a person is providing advertisement for whatever brand vehicle they are driving, they have to pay in order to do so. Amazing. Fifty dollars can do so much more than keep a tire warm. At orphanage in Uganda (www.moh-uganda.org), you can feed a child for almost two months with $50. You can buy a toilet for a Habitat for Humanity home with $50 (www.habitat.org).
When I was a little girl my family had the opportunity to spend a few years in Beirut Lebanon. During that time my parents were wise enough to show us snapshots of lives that were much different than ours. One of those snapshots was a trip to a Palestinian refugee camp. I had a red troll with me, my favorite one at the time and when we got out of the car I was carrying it. We were immediately surrounded by a crowd of dirty, smelly children in clothing that my parents wouldn't have even kept as rags. Somehow, in spite of the fear I had at being crowded so closely and having all these little hands reaching out and touching my hair and clothes, I locked eyes with another girl around the same age as me. Somehow we became friends in that instant. In a moment of un-childlike selflessness, I held out my red troll to her. She took it gingerly at first, then clutched it to her chest and ran off, I assume to the drainage pipe that she probably called home. Considering the fact that we watched children use orange rinds as boats in filthy ditch water, I'm pretty sure it was the only real toy she had.
I don't know that we'll have the opportunity to show Sophie those kinds of snapshots that she can hold on to when given the chance to spend money on helping others or keeping tires from getting cold, but I do hope that we're able to instill in her what's right and what's just downright goofy.