It was a craft fair, I think. I’m not sure why I was there. My mother was there with me because I was thirteen. The earrings–purple and gold and dangly–were there because I had to have them.
I looked at my mother. “I can buy them myself.” I’d certainly earned the money. Babysitting was not my favorite activity.
“What? Why not?” There was nothing wrong with the earrings, even given a mother’s weird perspective.
“You’re not getting earrings right now.”
What followed may have been my first knock-down, drag-out with my mother. It was almost certainly the first public one. I’d always been a fairly compliant child–well-trained, shall we say. But babysitting money was supposed to be my money, and she was being completely arbitrary. We didn’t leave the fair on the best of terms.
I almost forgave her a month or two later when the earrings turned up as part of my birthday present. Almost. I gave in to the point of not asking whether she’d already bought them when she decided I couldn’t. If she hadn’t, I didn’t want to know. I still don’t. Like the elopement that precedes your regular wedding ceremony, there are some things you just don’t discuss with your parents.
The sad thing is that I should have known. She’d done the same thing months earlier when she told me I was too young to see Prince’s Purple Rain concert (which I was, at least at the start of the concert), then put a ticket in my Christmas stocking. I couldn’t pay for that one with babysitting, so there was less argument, but it was definitely a precedent.
I learned after that, though. No more purple presents.