We were on our way to my in-laws' house, and we needed to stop at the store for ice cream. For some reason I decided to send in The Thinker instead of towing all three of the rascals inside for such a quick purchase. I gave him a few dollars, and told him to buy a quart of vanilla ice cream and some chocolate sauce. He looked at me and said, "Alone?"
"Yes. By yourself."
He took the money with a smile, looked both ways before crossing the parking lot and passed through the automatic doors. I drove around the lot to park beside the building where I could see the doors and waited.
He emerged a few minutes later with the store brand of ice cream ("Because it's cheaper, Mom") and Smucker's Magic Shell Chocolate Sauce. They weren't the choices I would have made, but they were perfect.
"Those machines are weird, Mom. They talk to you and everything."
"You used the machines? Did anyone help you?"
"No, I figured it out. The lines were too long to wait to buy just two things. And I figured if I had trouble, I'd just ask someone."
He talked for awhile about choosing chocolate sauces, anticipating his dessert later that evening. He read the back of the bottle and told me about what you need to do if you accidentally place the bottle in the fridge. I stole glances at him as I drove. He was sitting taller. More confident.
All because of ice cream and a little bit of freedom and responsibility.
"And you know what, Mom? I get what you've been saying about privilege and responsibility."
And that's when I knew. He's growing up. And it's a good thing.