One of the cool things about working with children is that every once in a while, you can get inside the mind of a child. A few days ago, one of the youngest girls in camp was crying. I went to her to find out what was wrong, and she sobbed to me that she couldn't find her soccer ball. It was a squishy little soccer ball that she had just gotten that weekend with her family in Cape May. She couldn't find it anywhere. And she was really starting to like that ball.
All of a sudden, I was six years old again. I vividly remembered the attachment that I would inexplicably get to random objects - especially new ones with some kind of sentimental value. I almost started crying myself, because I knew exactly how she felt. She was really starting to like that ball!
We looked for the ball for several minutes, retracing her steps and looking under all the picnic tables. We couldn't find it anywhere, and she really had to get down to the parking lot for pick-up, so we couldn't delay much longer. I went into my office and dug through the prize bin to see if I could find something to comfort her. I found a little hacky sack shaped like a baseball, and I brought it out to her. I asked if it might help keep her company until she found her soccer ball? She smiled a little through her tears and thanked me, taking the hacky sack gently in her hands like it was made of glass.
My six-year-old self took that hacky sack home and cherished it for years. It had twice the sentimental value of the original soccer ball, because it stood for the trip to Cape May with my family as well as the whole experience of losing it, and looking for it, and being comforted with a replacement. My six-year-old self had a lot of fun playing with bubbles that day, too. Oh wait, that was my 28-year-old self. I get them confused sometimes.