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All That and a Bag of Chips

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
I try hard not to listen to my husband when it comes to gifts or cards. He is a generous man when it comes to love. When it comes to gifts he gets it right about 25% of the time. In the world of grades a 25% means failing.

I remember once when I commented on a co-worker’s beautiful rose bouquet that she received for Valentine’s Day. My husband responded by saying, “Flowers are so cliché. I would rather get you a pound of ground beef in a Tupperware container than flowers. You could at least eat the ground beef. Flowers just die in a vase.”

Because I know this about my husband, I blame myself for the recital incident that made my daughter cry. It is my fault because I know better.

On Saturday, our 5-year-old daughter had her first recital . . . actually her first two recitals in the same day. In the first recital she performed her ballet routine. Looking somewhat angelic in her red and white striped ballet costume with the poofy white tutu, she spun around in circles, pointed her toes and extended her little legs. At the first curtain call, we ran up to the stage (just like all the other parents) and gave her a single yellow rose. I think she was shocked and her face could not have shown more pride and genuine happiness.

For her second recital – only 2 hours after the first – she performed her tap routine. We saw her sassy side as she wiggled and grooved, slapped her little feet and clicked around the stage. Although flowers were available for purchase in the lobby during the first recital, we realized before the second recital started that they had sold out. My husband quickly concocted a plan and decided that we should instead buy her a bag of potato chips off of the snack bar. “I don’t want her to be the only kid up there without anything,” he explained. The chips would suffice as a stand in for a flower. He assured me and my parents (who came to see Raina’s second recital) that she would LOVE the bag of potato chips and be happy with this substitution for flowers.

I don’t know why I went along with this plan. I know I was preoccupied with our 7 month old – having wrangled her with quiet toys, silent peek-a-boo, and seemingly endless nursing during the first recital. I was preoccupied with explaining the length of the recital to my parents letting them know that it was okay if they wanted to leave after Raina performed her 1 minute 50 second tap routine.

As the second recital ended the curtain call began. All of the girls dressed in their shiny, sequined costumes took turns bowing and receiving their bouquets from their respective families. When Raina’s class took their bows, my husband urged my mom to take Raina her chips. “She’ll love it, and I want to get it on video.” As my mom walked to the stage with the bag of Martin’s potato chips, the voice of reason that I had somehow turned off while this plan took shape, snapped on and made me want to tackle my mother and steal another family’s bouquet to give to my daughter beaming on stage from the applause anxiously awaiting her flowers.

She looked around expectantly and saw her grandmother walking quickly towards her. Raina smiled big and my mom handed her the bag of chips quickly and walked back to our seat without turning around to see Raina waving her down, the hot tears already plump on her cheeks and screaming, “Grammy! I don’t want these! Grammy! Take these back!”

I handed off our baby to my husband who just kept repeating, “I got all of that on tape” and I rushed to the stage to collect my daughter who only wanted a flower. She didn’t want a bag of chips which on any other day would make her smile and do a weird little dance in our kitchen. On this day, we as parents had failed her and our cute little attempt to pacify her with something other than a flower even if the little concession stand in the lobby had run out, would never be something we could explain to her or her broken heart.

A few days after the “bag of chips” incident, I heard an advertisement for Royer’s Flowers which announces, “There is scientific proof that receiving flowers makes people happy.” It made me feel sufficiently guilty enough to research the happiness principal associated with receiving flowers. It turns out that there are legitimate studies on this phenomenon through esteemed universities like Rutgers, and a comprehensive study was published in the April 2005 issue of Evolutionary Psychology which found that the “delight and gratitude” and “immediate impact on happiness” was a universal finding.

No such study could be located about receiving potato chips when flowers were unavailable and not surprising at all – no studies exist on the impact that a pound of ground beef given in lieu of flowers has on the receiver. I have my own hypothesis, though.

I shared the scientific “flowers equal happiness” findings with my husband with the hope that future recitals will be less traumatic and maybe, just maybe, this year I’ll receive flowers for Valentine’s Day.

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