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A Homemaker's Cottage (Eighth Issue) by Sonya Haskins.
Featured 4 February 1999 and archived 14 February 1999
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Sonya Haskins is the full-time stay-at-home mom of Sarah, Micah and Christopher. She also writes magazine articles and is working on her first book. Sonya welcomes comments from readers and constantly seeks to meet new moms to interview for the book.

All this material is copyright protected and cannot be used without the written consent of the author.

My best friend had the good intentions when she gave my daughter a three-legged table for a Christmas present. Actually, she didn't "give" it to her, she put it in the car late at night as we headed back to our home four hours away. Sarah wasn't supposed to know it was her present until Christmas.

After looking at the table, however, my husband and I decided that we might like to exchange it for one that would be a little more sturdy for a two and a half year old. My friend, who doesn't have any children, said that she hadn't even thought about the issue of safety and it would be fine with her if we exchanged it.

I rarely exchange gifts and before this incident had never exchanged any of the children's toys. I thought it would be all right to take the kids with me since Sarah didn't even know it was for her, after all.

When we arrived at the store, I piled the two children, the diaper bag and the table in the buggy and headed inside to the service desk. They told me to pick out another item and then come back. I didn't see any other little tables at that store for Sarah so I decided to trade for other items I needed anyway and purchase the table elsewhere.

What I didn't count on was the fact that Sarah had apparently used the time while I was shopping to decide that the table I had brought in belonged to her.

I returned to the service desk and made the trade of items and a clerk picked that moment to put up miscellaneous stock. She placed the table on top of the other items in a full buggy before she told the other clerk at the desk that she was going to reshelf the merchandise.

Suddenly my calm, well-behaved daughter began yelling, "They are taking my surprise! The table is my surprise, my present and she is taking it!" She managed to attract the attention of everyone within hearing distance of the service desk and I had the pleasure of receiving some less than pleasant glances in our direction. They probably thought I was the Grinch incarnate.

After what seemed like a very long time, although it was probably seconds, I explained to Sarah that it was in fact going to be her table, but I wanted to trade it for a larger one instead. For the first time ever I actually considered giving in to her cries and taking the table back, but she accepted the explanation good-heartedly enough and we found another table later that same day at an antique store. (It is an old coffee table for $10 that is so heavy on the bottom it's difficult for me to turn over.)

One of the great things about life is that we can learn from our experiences. I think the next time I try to take something that looks like a child's possession back to the store, I'll leave the child at home.

Please give all feedback on this column to the author Sonya Haskins.