“Don’t open my backpack,” three-year-old Jenny said, as she walked in and dumped it on the floor.
“OK, why not?” Mum asked.
“Because, it’s my backpack and I can open it all by myself now. I’m a big girl!”
“I know that. I do want to clean out your lunchbox though. Can I get that out of your backpack, or do you want to do it?”
“I can do it!” Jenny took off her backpack and started to unzip it, but the zipper got stuck.
“Here let me help you.”
“No, I can do it! I can...” she struggled. Then, “I can’t do it...” she dropped the backpack on the floor, frustrated.
“Let me help you.”
“You can’t see in my backpack!” Jenny yelled, pulling it toward her quickly.
Alarmed, Mom said, “Why not? What’s wrong with your backpack?”
“Nothing!” Jenny said, now getting visibly upset.
“Jenny,” Mom said, in her most ‘end of discussion’ voice, “give me your backpack, now.”
Jenny hesitated long enough to start actual butterflies in Mom’s stomach, then slowly handed it over.
After clearing the zipper, Mom slowly unzipped the backpack. Nothing seemed off. Then she slowly pulled out the lunchbox. Still nothing odd. There was a thick paper on the side, she lifted it carefully and looked under it, just emptiness. She looked up at Jenny. A tear was rolling down her cheek.
“Honey, what’s the matter?”
Jenny reached out for the paper Mum had pulled out of the backpack. Through tears Jenny sobbed, “This... is... for... your... birthday...”
Mom looked at the paper, a heart with ‘Love Jenny’ printed on it in giant crayon letters. “It’s a surprise.”
“Honey, it’s beautiful! And I am so surprised! Really!”
“Really?” Jenny said, smiling.
“Absolutely! And even more, because my birthday isn’t for seven more months!”