Plastic Dolphins and Other Junk

1431960393The day my girls’ had been waiting for had finally arrived: it was wonderful water-themed field day. Everyone was happy. Even the cloud cover and mild humidity — while wreaking havoc on my hair — couldn’t touch the sheer, unadulterated joy of this day. All was well with the world.

And then — just like that — my hopes for closing out the morning in like fashion were dashed by a Ziploc baggie filled with .03 cent plastic sea figure toy “prizes.”

After the final event — musical beach towels — mayhem ensued as the children were directed toward a small bag full of “prizes.” I watched in horror as countless little hands attached to a swarm of first graders nearly mauled one another trying to procure the perfect sea creature contained in a single, sandwich-sized Ziploc baggie. My daughter was holding the bag when the feeding frenzy ensued. It all happened so quickly. It was madness. My life flashed before my eyes. A dolphin. That’s all she wanted. That one, blue dolphin. Our window of escape quickly narrowing, I told her release the bag. In retrospect, I’m unsure that this was in my best interest. All I can say is that life threatening situations do no naturally lend themselves to clarity of thought.

A split second later, the sea creatures were scattered on the ground. “I want a dolphin! I want a dolphin!” Nothing else would do. My eyes searched frantically. Please GOD let there be a dolphin so I can live to see another day. No sooner had the words “There are no dolphins…” left my lips when a little hand swooped down and grabbed a little blue sea creature. “DOLPHIN,” she exclaimed, before disappearing into the crowd. My ears were not the only ones that heard.

Oh, yeah. It wasn’t pretty. Not even close.

After composing ourselves (ahem), we made our way to find sister. Sissy had played the beach towel game earlier that morning. As we approached her, she started to speak. That’s when the dread came over me. She held something small in her hand. No. It couldn’t be. Surely I’ve not done anything bad enough to deserve this. There’s no way.

Way.

In sister’s hand was a dolphin — a perfect, pretty, pale blue dolphin. The very one little sissy almost lost her life (and mine) over.

We managed to get to the car without a huge scene — at least that is what I have to keep telling myself.

Once in the safety of our vehicle, my child was read the riot act regarding exactly what to expect in the event she displayed such behavior going forward.

And whether out of pity or weariness of hearing the world “dolphin” uttered over and over and OVER again, one child surrendered her .03 cent plastic sea creature to the other.

Ahhhh! A happy ending.

Well, sort of. Except that the image of those hands grabbing in desperation over something so utterly worthless was seared into my mind. There was no thought to others in that moment — no consideration for the people around them. Just “Gimme!”

Later on when our little world was back to baseline, we had a conversation. We spoke about the piles of plastic toys that she has since forgotten and the dolphin that she would soon forget. We spoke about the child who snatched what she wanted right out from under her nose. We spoke about her sister who gave up her own toy to make her happy (or whatever). We spoke about what will soon be forgotten and will always be remembered. We compared and contrasted the investment we make in and value we place on stuff as opposed to relationships.

I think we both got something out of that little talk. I imagine that we’ll need to have it numerous times. That’s okay, though. I need the reminder.

Your Voice