Little kids go through a stage were they put stuff in bags. All sorts of stuff into all sorts of bags.

I opened my daughter's bag, the one she was filling just before we went to the store. I had been waiting since the morning to peek inside.

Little kids go through a stage were they put stuff in bags. All sorts of stuff into all sorts of bags. In fact, if something goes missing my first stop is a visit to my daughters. I learned this years ago when my oldest was little and had a habit of always "needing" the TV remote for her next adventure.

When she grew out of this stage, I was thankful. There is nothing so frustrating as a parent than to clean up the house at the end of the night and be left with five bags full of random things. My wife and I would lay it out like we were indexing finds from an archeological dig.

I'm not sure where the Disney princess lost her body, but I see her leg a few times a week.

Of course, one day my oldest grew out of this. And I thought, that's great. She packed her bag for an overnight trip with everything you would actually need for an overnight trip, plus five or so too many stuffed animals. I was so proud.

I wondered if my youngest would do the same thing. Then one night she brought me a gift bag to thank me for coming to her party. When I told her I didn't remember the party, she shushed me. That wasn't important. What's in the bag was important: two erasers, a sticker and one of the cat toys.

"Hold on," she said one morning before we left for the store. "I need to get my purse and put a few things in it."

We had just put our shoes on, so I waited on the porch while she went inside. I waited long enough that I checked my watch, even though I don't wear one. I called into the house.

"Just one minute," she called back.

What exactly does a 3-year-old need to bring with her on a shopping trip? When she returned, I planned to ask her first thing, unless of course her shoes weren't on the correct feet.

"Your shoes are on the wrong feet," I said when she appeared. Flip-flops are deceptive.

"What's in the bag?" I continued.

"Nothing," she replied. "Just some things I need."

When I asked if I could see what she packed, she stopped me. "Not now, maybe later, if you're good," she said.

Now I was really interested. What was in this mystery bag and why was it so important? She wouldn't tell me in the car, nor in the store; not even when I was carrying it around for 20 minutes.

When we got home, I pulled the bag out of the car as she ran inside. I opened it up. Inside was some play money, a Minnie Mouse play cellphone, several pieces of paper and a green rock. When she saw me investigating, she explained. The money was for buying things, the phone was to call mom and the papers were her shopping list.

"What about the rock?" I asked.

"Well, it's green," she said. "And I think it's pretty."

Reach Dave at david.manley@cantonrep.com

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