The Bunny Purse

Last week on the way home from school I asked Sean what he did in school that day.

“Nothing,” he said.

“Oh really? Not anything? You just sat at your desk with your hands folded for four hours?  I’m going to ask for my money back if they’re not going to teach you anything.”

This caused him to sniff in amusement.

“We had centers today.”

It was a crumb, but I take what I can get.

“Centers? Really? Reading?”

“No. Shopping.”

“Shopping Centers!” I laughed at my own joke.

“What did you buy?”

“Well!” he huffed, “I only had 75 pennies so I bought an electric pencil.”

“You mean a mechanical pencil?” I said rather than asked, “Good choice. Cool.”

“No, not cool.  I wanted to buy the bunny purse for you but it was like 100 pennies and then Karys bought it!” he whined with indignation.   “I didn’t have enough money!”

That was interesting because the last time we were at the school for a class party, AD noted that Sean had a huge stash of pennies in his cubbie while the other kids only had a few coins each. AD later suggested to me that Sean should set up a little business of making secured loans to the other children at a reasonable rate of interest. No, not usury. It sounds so ugly when you say it like that. Think of it as a math lesson in the power of compounding interest.

“A bunny purse?! You were going to buy me a bunny purse?!”  The very thought delighted and pierced my heart at the same time.

“Yes, it had a bunny on it with a nose and it was furry and pink on the outside and purpledy-pink on the inside and it had a nice zipper and a strap for your head.”  I think he meant a strap for my shoulder.  I tried not to laugh at the mental image of a bunny head purse.

“But Karys bought it!  I didn’t have enough money!”  The injustice caused his voice to leap an octave.

I looked in the rear view mirror to see his eyes beginning to swell with tears.  Didn’t have enough money. This thought stirred up ancient poor girl dust that never really settles out, but remains suspended in the soul for a lifetime.

In my mind, I could see him eyeing the bunny purse, turning it over and over in his hand, imagining how he would present it to me and how delighted I would be.  I imagined him counting on his fingers, working out the math. And then the disappointment, how it would fall from the ceiling and settle heavy over him, rounding his shoulders. I felt in my own heart the disbelief he felt when he realized the bunny purse was out of reach and worse, it was going home with someone else.  I know there is a good and powerful life lesson tucked away in the experience, yet it pains me all the same.

We drove another mile or so, neither of us saying a word.

“Well,” I finally said, “I have to tell you – I love that you would spend your money on me. That’s a very selfless big boy thing to do, and just knowing that?  That is a wonderful gift that would make any mom happy.”

This did not go far in salving his wound.

And you know what?” I continued, “There will always be people who will get stuff and have stuff that you want.  That’s just the way it is.”

Just recently I had been to someone’s gorgeous and fully accessorized home and felt a tinge of what he was feeling, familiar and bitter.

He sighed. Not what he wanted to hear. He wanted to hear how terrible Karys was for buying the purse out from under him.  That it was unfair.  That’s what I would want to hear.

But I didn’t say that.  I told him that even moms and dads feel that way sometimes.  I wanted him to know that, to be honest with him about that.

“But,” I said, “I find that if I can be grateful for what I have rather than disappointed over what I have not, that it makes it a little better.  A little.”

That’s a hard one to learn, and a lesson to be learned over and over. So I quit teaching and let it go.

When we got home, he disappeared upstairs, I assumed to contemplate upon the unfairness of life.

20 minutes later, he appeared at my desk. The cloud of gloom had lifted.

“Close your eyes and hold out your hands,” he said cheerfully.

When I opened my eyes, I was holding a bunny purse made out of construction paper, tape and staples.  My name was monogrammed on the front in purple crayon.

When life steals your bunny purse, make one out of construction paper.

I told him I couldn’t imagine any bunny purse anywhere nicer than this one.

And I meant it.

56 thoughts on “The Bunny Purse

  1. AM – thank you. I re-learned a lesson for myself tonight, and I also learned how to teach my young toddlers this same concept when the time comes….and as you said, it will come over and over again.
    Thank you again.


  2. The story of Sean’s sadness and indignation was touching, but I must say that your poetic image (“ancient poor girl dust”) touched a nerve that I didn’t realize was still sensitive…really a sort of “haunting” way to express the feeling that lurks…


  3. Waah! Not nice making me cry on my first ever visit to your blog. I need to return some other time; surely you have posts that are mundane and meaningless. LOL! Lisa~


  4. Wow. I understand what Sean felt — now *I* want a bunny purse too!

    Sweet post, AM. Love it.


  5. Awwwww…how very sweet! A definite treasure for your memory box.

    I haven’t been by in awhile. I’ve been planning our daughter’s wedding. Now that it’s over, I’m gradually getting back to being able to visit my fav blogs.



  6. Sean is one lucky little guy! You are an amazing Mom. The life lessons you teach him with every little thing is nothing short of amazing! You should have had 10 kids!!! Keep up the great work!


  7. Please, can we see it?
    I would love to see it. If it wouldn’t be too intrusive … wow. How awesome.


  8. That is so sweet and so wise.

    One of my favourite sayings is :”If you don’t get everything you want, think of everything you didn’t get that you didn’t want”. I find it a powerful way to change my thinking if I envy someone or something. I’m always saying it to my kids. I think they’ll engrave it on my tombstone!!


  9. This was so sweet. It will be one of your favorite memories– and I agree he is a sweetheart who is being taught what’s important.


  10. Than is extremely sweet. I’m glad that he was able to figure out how to create the bunny purse for you… hopefully with a strap
    for your head. 😉


  11. Love this! My friend recommended your blog to me because I love living with flair! I search for daily flair everyday and try to find extraordinary meaning in common things. Your blog post inspired me! That’s flair!


  12. I think it’s good that it turned into a lesson. There is always another ‘bunny purse’ in one form or another. My daughter could rattle off all her bunny purses right now. And I guess I could too. sigh…

    It makes my day when you post. : )


  13. The bunny purse he WANTED to buy sounds awfully cute, but I bet you’ll be treasuring this one a lot longer!

    Oh, and your writing! The phrase “ancient poor girl dust that never really settles out” is just TOO true.


  14. I haven’t been by in a while, dealing w/life, and all that.

    Good to know not much has changed. Sean is still sweet as ever. You’re still writing w/abilities I can only wish for.

    I got all teary.


  15. wiping away tears– that was lovely and then to add slips of paper with positive messages into the bunny purse…awwww
    WOW! I wanna be in your family ! I’ll start making you a bunny purse right…now!? 🙂


  16. I told him I couldn’t imagine any bunny purse anywhere nicer than this one.

    And I meant it.

    And I can’t imagine a more beautifully written inspirational piece, AM. Hear that twang? That was my heartstrings… WOW!


  17. After nearly a year of my husband being unemployed, my boy has had to learn /hear about this lesson A LOT. But I don’t feel that bad, better he learn it now than later (or never).
    All his friends have cell phones at the age of 9 and he declared he needed one too. Even if we had all the money in the world, my boy does not NEED a cell phone at 9 years old. However, I did suggest to him that he sell his dirt bike (bought in better times!) and he would have plenty of money to pay for his own cell phone. He thought about that one a while and declared….he didn’t really NEED that cell phone after all. Hard lessons, good lessons, in my opinion.



  18. Oh, that’s just too sweet. And I admire the conservations you have with Sean — such a good blend of honesty and compassion. These are the moments to cherish. Again and again.


  19. What a great story. “But,” I said, “I find that if I can be grateful for what I have rather than disappointed over what I have not, that it makes it a little better. A little.”

    struggling with a difficult issue in my life and this statement really spoke to me! I know it’s a simple concept and one we should always strive for but reading it in your blog at the moment that I did was MUCH needed! THANK YOU!


  20. What a great story! What a great lesson! I hope my little guy starts picking up on things like this pretty soon…


  21. There’s not much that construction paper and a good heart can’t fix. Gotta love thoughtful, generous boys (and their parents!). Thank you for taking time to share – it helps reinforce the things we are doing. Did you know your example helps guide our ship at times? Thank you!


  22. This story leaves a deep impression on me in so many ways. 1. What a sweet, sensitive little man you have. 2. You took a moment of disappointment and turned it into a teachable moment in such a gentle yet powerful way. 3. You’ve challenged me. I struggle with contentment & I frequently feel inadequate because other have nicer homes, furnishings, clothes, etc. than me. I want to make my own construction paper bunny purses.
    Thank you for sharing a beautiful story.


  23. I just completely LOVE this story, AM. THIS is why I keep coming back to read your blog. You really should write a book!! It’s a hard lesson to learn when you’re a kid, but you’re right, its also one we need to learn over and over throughout our entire lives. Thank you for this sweet and wonderful piece of your life. And is it wrong that I covet your bunny purse? 🙂


  24. I’m in tears over how sweet your little guy is!

    It’s funny that before I was a Mom I would have laughed if I saw a woman out in public with a bunny purse. Now that I have a little guy of my own, I would carry it proudly!


  25. Oh, that I should have the ability you seem to have to explain these things in such a wise and succinct manner!

    Nicely put. What a lovely boy you have. And what a lovely way you have of delivering very difficuly lessons. Thank you for sharing.


  26. It takes such courage and strength to let children learn that they will not always get exactly what they want or everything someone else has, but OH, the wonderful rewards when you see them deaing with those truths.


  27. That just warms my heart. Who knew that as a mom your heart would break and also be filled so many times?


  28. So touching. I also have tears in my eyes. And Kathy’s idea is genius! I am struggling with how much financial information to let Gabe be in on. His dad and I disagree a little. He feels that children should be 100% sheltered, but I think they need to learn that there isn’t always money for everything we want, and wish we could have.

    * * *
    I think we tend to align more with you. We want Sean to have a low-level awareness that these are uncertain economic times for most everyone, not just us. Our prayer for Sean is that nestled into the deepest part of his heart is the knowledge that the certainty our faith provides always trumps any economic uncertainty. Economies will rise and fall, but He is forever.


  29. Better than purple fur anyday! Could your family use it to “carry” blessings? Thankful pieces of paper with grateful thoughts? Your frig might be the perfect place to collect that kind of commodity!

    * * *
    Now THAT! is an awesome idea! We are going to do that.


  30. What a great story!! And a great line: When life steals your bunny purse, make one out of construction paper. You’re raising a sweet boy with a tender heart.


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