I rushed home tonight to get ready for a fund-raising event on behalf of the New Directions Career Center, a local non-profit agency that helps individuals get back on their feet and pursue careers. I decided to bring Maria with me for two reasons: none of my girlfriends were available and I continue to try to open Maria’s eyes up to giving back to the community. When I opened the back door to the house, Maria came running into the kitchen commanding me to get upstairs and get ready! She wore a plaid dress with two beaded necklaces, multi-colored flower leggings, a purple ring, and silver sandals. Her hair was loosely tied back in a ponytail with a black headband. My hippy girl.
However, as much as she dresses herself in flowy, hippy, non-traditional clothes, she does not enjoy the same for me. She wanted to pick out my clothes for me, and since we were going to a fund-raiser where I would not know too many people, I thought “what the heck.” She chose a short orange dress with leaf prints on it that I had bought for Cancun with Jon and a pair of black open-toed heels. I felt ridiculous. I am just not meant to wear such clothes. My body yearns for a pair of sweats and a T. But I did it for Maria because she loves getting dressed up and this was her night with her mama. On our way to the car, Maria yelled to the father two houses down “Andy, do you know where we are going?” He asked where and she replied matter-of-factly “to the bar.” What a nut.
We got to the event, and she held my little red purse as she strolled into the event like she was one of the guests of honor. We ate a White Castle hamburger (she hated it; I devoured it) and then moved onto the buffet bar. She needed to get her tummy full before we moved to the silent auction. She grabbed a large plate and a small (asking me to hold onto the small one until she was ready for it). Christmas came early for her this year because low and behold on the buffet bar was meatballs! I was 99% sure there would not be such creatures at this event but had not told her this for fear she would have declined my invite. She poured four meatballs and sauce on her large plate. Next came a ladle of ranch dip with two broccoli heads and 5 crackers (dipping crackers in ranch – to die for!). I made her get some fruit, and she obediently grabbed a grape and a small piece of pineapple in the shape of a football on a stick. We sat and ate and people-watched.
Maria caught with more ranch dip and veggies
After our meal, we began our way around the rooms to look at the silent auction items. Maria found a cupcake gift box with cupcake mix, aprons, a cookbook, sprinkles, cupcake stuffed animal, and cupcake holders. She wanted to buy it. I explained the bidding process and told her that the gift retailed at $100 and the last bid was $40. She wanted to put down $120. Oh, does she remind me of Jon more and more. Her reasoning was the same as Jon’s too: “I want this gift and I will pay what I need to pay to get it.” She innately understood that if she put $45 she would probably not have a chance. An antique shopper in the works. When I told her she could go to $60, she shook her head and mumbled under her breath, “we won’t get this one.” She loved the thrill of putting the money number down on the sheet. Every time I told her the price we’d offer, she put a higher number. The girl likes to spend. By the end, we bid on eight items, three of which I think we have a strong chance of winning (we ended up returning to the cupcake gift and putting down $120 since it had gone to $100). Hey, it goes to a great cause.
We stopped for one last round of veggies and crackers and dip and headed out as they were doing a live auction for a trip to South Africa. Oh, what I would have given to bid on that trip. I should have just gone for it (Maria raised her hands numerous times, and thank goodness the auctioneer could not see them (even though I should have just let her overpower my risk-averseness )). As we walked back to the car, a director we had seen in the beginning of the night asked Maria if she wanted to volunteer for the organization, like become a guest speaker. Maria nodded her head “no.” She stated “I have a play date tomorrow so I can’t.” The director laughed and got in her car. I asked Maria if she would volunteer when she did not have a play date. “Mom, I will do it when I am 20,” she replied. I retorted “you will volunteer a lot earlier than that, Ms. Thing.” She threw the “Oh, mom, whatever” look at me to which I promptly turned around and tickled her until she begged me to stop.
As we drove home, Maria asked when we would “win” our prizes from the event and I explained that they would have to review the sheets to see who had the highest bid. Maria immediately warned me “We better have bid high enough for those cupcakes, mom….”