This afternoon I picked up the small person (age 5, almost 6) from school. We were nearing the cut-off for home when she cried out, "I left my frog at school!" Making a long story short, it was a paper frog she'd made in school, and she'd left it on the sidewalk in the pick-up line. Despite my reassurances that it would be picked up (though I didn't add, "and probably trashed"), she wailed, "He'll blow away!"
I explained that we couldn't go back for him. In truth, we could, but it was a long way, and after-school traffic is horrendous. When I turned onto the cut-off, she subsided into quiet, hiccuping sobs. Clearly, her small heart was breaking..
So, of course, I found a place to turn around.
Everyone had gone when we reached the school, but she spied her paper plate frog, complete with green construction paper legs and a long red tongue, propped against the wall in the pick-up area. Her face brightened, and she hopped out to retrieve her fly-eating friend. Happiness reigned as she climbed back into the car.
I felt happy, too.
It was only a paper frog, but it was her frog. And I am her Mimi, someone she trusts to love her and do the best for her. When it comes to sweet treats and rules, I hold firm, so she doesn't beg treats or break rules. But when it comes to matters of the heart...a few extra miles and minutes don't really matter...and someday she'll remember that today I shared her pain and did what I could to assuage it.
Children's hearts are fragile. Perhaps they mend, but maybe it's best not to break them at all.