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My boy bought me a ring. He stuck a token into a prize machine and out it popped.

“It’s for my mom,” he told the dentist, his freshly polished teeth creating the backdrop for his smile.

I unwrapped it from the clear case and slid it onto my finger. He swelled with pride, and my heart swelled bigger. I looked down at the ring, admiring the proof of his sweetness on my hand, a token of my own.

The pink jewel caught the light like the diamonds on my wedding ring often do. The gold band tightly stretched around my finger, the same way his hand bends around mine when we cross the quiet streets of our neighborhood. The plastic flower reminded me of all the dandelions he’s picked for me, how each one was thoughtfully selected.

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He’s just shy of five, but moments like this make him seem simultaneously older and younger than that. These moments remind me of those early days, the first times I realized how kind his heart is, and also make me fully aware of how many moments we have yet to uncover, how my heart is bound to stretch to its brink, much like the thin metal of this flower ring.

Like most kids his age, he’s candid with his emotions. You know when he’s happy, when he’s upset, and you certainly know when he loves you. His little acts of love are stacked up in my mind like folded T-shirts—balanced in their own wobbly way, ready to be put on when I need the comfort of a well-known memory. Those piles will grow as he does, and over time, some will be swapped for new ones, but right now, this flower ring sits on the top—crisp folds and soft fabric, the details as perfectly intact as the moment itself.

I know I won’t always be the recipient of his rings. There will be others along the way though he doesn’t know it yet. He still believes he’ll grow up and marry me, and if he can’t marry me, then he’ll settle for his sister. But one day that will change, as it should, and he’ll want to share his spoils with someone else. They’ll learn the kindness of his heart, how giving to others fills his cup.

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His hand will hold theirs instead of mine. He’ll buy their rings with money rather than tokens. Their bands will be made from metals too solid to stretch, topped with gems that weren’t forged in plastic. They’ll stare at their rings in admiration the same way I look at mine, but theirs will mean something entirely different than this flower ring means to me. They’ll represent other versions of him, other types of love. And that will be something to celebrate in its own right because a heart like his is meant to be shared.

For now, I’ll wear mine as long as time allows, long after his hands outgrow mine, long after the shine on the plastic flower dulls, long after he realizes little boys don’t grow up and marry their moms. I’ll wear it to show him how much I appreciate his heart. I’ll wear it when I need a reminder that other versions of him will belong to someone else, but this version, the sticky kiss, plastic jewel, dandelion-picking version, will always belong to me.

My boy bought me a ring, and it won’t be the last one he buys.

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Lindsay Pagni

Lindsay resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two kids. Her deep love for the written word inspired her to co-found Polished it, LLC, an editing and writing company. Most days, you can find her sipping iced coffee, talking baseball with her husband, and finding new ways to make her kids laugh.

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