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A long, long time ago a little girl was playing with another little girl. One who was not always nice to her. The first little girl was wearing her brand new Mickey Mouse watch. It was a prized possession. One of her aunts bought it for her as a gift. During the game, the second little girl noticed it, decided she liked it, and asked the first little girl for her for that watch. She proposed a trade, actually: Her cheap plastic Mardi Gras beads for the watch. Wanting to please the second little girl — and hoping to solidify their friendship — the first little girl took of her watch and handed it over.

Later that night the first little girl’s mother noticed it was gone and asked where it went. When she heard that the not-so-nice girl had it she was livid. She marched around the corner and demanded it back. She got it after debating the topic for a bit. (Who in their right minds thinks it’s okay for 7- or 8-year-olds to trade real watches for plastic beads? The not-so-nice little girl’s mother, I guess.)

I was the first little girl, of course. I still have that watch in my childhood jewelry box. It was not the last time I gave things away (material or otherwise) to foster a friendship. Fast forward to today. Tonight, my little one wanted to know where her Teen Beach Movie poster was. The one we got the night we went to the blogger preview of Monsters Inc. The one that’s already selling on eBay as “rare.” It was in the car, I told her. I left it there safe and sound so it wouldn’t get wrinkled or wet since it was raining when we came home that night. Big Girl, however, informed her that no, it wasn’t there anymore. That she had given it away to a little girl who she’s acquaintances with — someone we carpool with every once in a while but isn’t exactly what I would call a close friend.

“She asked for it, Mommy. I wanted to make her happy, Mommy.” Sigh. I was already mad, but figured we could fix it by giving Big Girl’s poster to Little Girl. No dice. Big Girl’s poster, I remembered, got mangled and torn because it got wet. It was tossed the same night we got it.

While consoling the little one about her lost poster (she may only be 5 but she knows what’s hers!) I tried to keep my cool about what happened. I failed miserably. That day many, many summers ago came flooding back. I remember how I felt when I handed that watch over to the other little girl. I just desperately wanted her to like me. I wanted to fit into her little group of pretty, popular kids. I wanted to be her friend. I started yelling at Big Girl asking her WHY she would give away her sister’s poster, especially to someone who isn’t a good friend. Sure, she had already told me why, but what I really wanted to know is if somehow, some way I had given her the vibe that it’s okay to let people use us.

In the end I texted the mother of the girl explaining what happened and asking if we could get the poster back. I still haven’t heard back. And Big Girl? She cried just like I cried the day I gave away my watch. We had a long talk about what a friend is, what a pal is, and what an acquaintance is. We talked about how we don’t give people things, even if they ask for them. (In this case, especially when they ask for them.) We talked about what being used is and why it’s important to stand up for ourselves. She went to bed sniffling and here I am, sitting here wondering if I said the right things.

They say making mistakes is a good thing. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn. I hope she learned a lesson today. I know I did: History repeats itself, and boy is that a bitch.

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