Enlightened Self-Interest, Five-Year-Old Style

“Hey, Daddy. I think I figured out what to buy with my money,” Vivian quietly announced.

Gammy Jones recently sent Vivian $5, with instructions to buy whatever Vivian wishes. Making a consumer decision had been weighing heavily on this five-year-old mind.

“Oh? What did you decide?” I inquired.

“I would like to buy food for my family,” she said, softly.

Her response halted me, literally and figuratively. I looked down at her. I could see the tops of her long, dark eyelashes. She was gazing at the five dollars in her little hand. My heart swelling, I knelt to look eye-to-eye with this sweet child. Vivian frequently thinks of others and their welfare, more frequently than most adults, I’d guess, let alone children her age.

We looked at each other. I said nothing, smiling.  She continued: “I would like to buy broccoli, carrots, apples,…”

She paused, slowly swinging her gaze to the ceiling. She pondered, beginning to massage her little chin with the forefinger and thumb of her right hand.  This is getting good, I thought.  The $5 dangled in her other hand dangled toward the floor, in the opposite direction of her gaze.


Something fun or touching is about to occur, sprang to my mind.  I’ve been tangled up in these delicious little moments before.  I’ve also, probably and sadly, missed a few.  I have learned to keep my radar on full alert and, if the slightest BLEEP! ticked on the screen, drop whatever I’m doing,  pull up a chair, and prepare to enjoy the show.  Live in the moment?  You know it!

“…ummmm, annnnd, mac & cheese, chicken nuggets, candy, and toys.”

And there it was.

After another pause her lazy upward gaze snapped into a sidewards stare at me, her face blank but her eyes ablaze. The hand that moments prior was pensively massaging her chin opened up and swung out wide, palm skyward. Did I make the sale? those beautiful, brilliant eyes inquired as they bore into Daddy’s delighted soul.

Daddy’s soul smiled wider, and so did his mouth.

What an adorable combination of thinly-veiled motives, sweetly-innocent economic ignorance, and an intellect that gets nimbler every day—all packaged in the enlightened self-interest of a sweet, intelligent child.