The Doll

doll standing on brown leaves
Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash

The Doll

As I was making my daughter’s bed, I stopped to look around me. Her room would have been a dream for me when I was little. Lots of expensive toys, all of them as new as the first day, ordered on the selves around the room.

It saddened me remembering three years earlier, when she was five and she told me that her teacher, had asked the children to bring a few toys to school. They were going to send them to South America, so children living in poverty could have presents that Christmas.

We took a medium-sized box, and started putting toys inside. I was surprised to see my daughter, choosing new toys that she treasured and had hardly used, but seeing her so excited, I didn’t want to say anything.

The teacher did say something! The box was rejected because the toys had been used! They had to bring new toys and in their original packaging!

My poor daughter left school that day trying to hold back her tears and terribly upset.

That situation brought me back to a little story, something that happened a long while ago. A time when we were less fortunate and more innocent.

I must have been four years old and I was at the beach with my two older brothers. We were trying to make a sand castle. The three of us were “working” on the same construction, but with no much coordination. It was so much so, that at one point one of my brothers was throwing sand at the same time as I was throwing water and exactly at that moment, my other brother holding the toy spike pushed everything away. The water and the sand went straight onto the stomach of a  man who was lying next to us, having a nap.

The man jumped off his towel, totally confused and momentarily forgot where he was. My parents ran to apologise for our behaviour while the three of us were as silent as a mouse and stiff as a poker.

Once the man came back from dreamland, he was sympathetic and understanding. He shook my parents’ hands and with a smile, started walking towards us. We were still in the same stiff position and only relaxed when we saw his big smile.

‘No damage was done.’ He said to all of us.

Then, pointing away from the beach, he said: ‘I own a bar just over there. Why don’t you come and I invite you all for a few drinks.’

My parents looked at each other and accepted the invitation.

We were sitting at a round table savouring the cold drinks when the man came from inside with a paper bag and said: ‘I’ve got a little surprise here!’ We all looked up, as he was slowly opening the bag, and saw a doll’s face beginning to appear from the top of the bag. ‘Who is going to get this little dolly?’

As if I were in a dream I saw my body stand up from the chair in slow motion. I put my hand out and said: ‘It’s for me!’

What a treat that was. We’d only get presents a Christmas and on our birthdays.

The man was smiling and was taking the doll extremely slowly from the paper bag, keeping me in emotional suspense while my face had the biggest of the smiles and the widest eyes.                                            

When, finally,  the doll’s torso was out and the legs had to come out, only one of them came out!                                                                        

‘It’s a limp doll’ I said as I was taking back all the excitement and letting my body fall into the chair.    

‘Say thank you and take the doll.’ Mum whispered to me.

Taking the doll into my arms I said thank you to the man with the very best smile I could manage.

We were taught to be grateful and not to offend the bearer of a gift.

That was then. Now, what lessons are we teaching our children?

And how much better off are the receiving children, when instead of getting a big box full of expensive and almost new toys, they get totally new toys, but very cheap and much fewer than they would otherwise have been.