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For the Want of a Sucker

My five-year-old Grand is my ride-around town partner for drive-thru services. After making stops at the bank and the library, Micah and I went to the drugstore.  When I saw several cars in line, I thought the wait might be longer than Micah’s patience so I suggested that I take him home and I’d pick up my prescriptions later.

            “But Gran,” he said, “I want a sucker.”

            “Micah, I don’t think they have suckers,” I said. 

            “Why?” Micah asked.  I hope this question stays in his vocabulary forever and it always deserves an answer. 

            “Every drive -thru doesn’t offer suckers,” I said.

            “Oh. If they do, can I have one?” His hope for a sucker encouraged me to line up behind three cars.

            We sat quietly for a minute and then Micah asked, “Will you ask for six?”

            “Six? Why six?”

            “For my brother and sisters.  Wait! that’s not right!”  And then he began a ten-minute monologue, with many pauses, that required few responses.  Micah named his siblings.  “I need one for Lucy.  For Annabel.  For me. Is that three?  Did I say Elsie?  For Elsie.  How many is that?  Four?  Samuel probably doesn’t care.  That’s right. I need four.”   He had named his older siblings from youngest to oldest.

            “But if they only give you three, they’re for Lucy and Annabel and me. What if they only give you two?  That’ll be for Lucy and me.”  

            “Gran, do you like suckers?”  I do.  “So maybe they’ll give you one if you ask.” 

            “What if they give you only one?  I’ll eat it real fast before we get to my house. Wonder what kind they have? I like every kind. It doesn’t matter what kind they have.”

            Finally, it was my turn at the window. Micah sat right behind me in my van.  I rolled his and my windows down; he stuck his head out the open window.  After hearing my name and birthdate, the pharmacy clerk turned her back to us and I whispered, “I don’t see any suckers.” 

            Micah said, “Me, either, but maybe they’re hidden.”   I wasn’t surprised when the clerk said hello to Micah, but didn’t offer a sucker.  No, she didn’t have suckers.

            The clerk handed me my prescription and said, “You two have a good day.”

            As we drove away from the store, Micah said, “That’s okay, Gran.  I didn’t really need a sucker and nobody else will know that she didn’t give us any. Don’t tell them.”

            A lump rose in my throat.  My grandmother impulse was to buy a bag of suckers, but I didn’t. And I didn’t go to my house and get four suckers out of my chewing gum and sucker stash.

            Micah had accepted a disappointment, a seemingly small one.  Would it help him accept larger ones?  And what about not telling his brothers and sisters?  He protected them from disappointment. 

            My ride-around-town Grand is learning some life lessons that are learned through experience. And I thought we were only running errands.

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