You probably can’t see what that little girl is holding, but it’s an old plastic bottle that she picked up on the side of the road. She picked it up, showed it to her brother, and they both got very excited and began tossing it back and forth to each other. Then she threw it to their Uncle. Then to me
As a smile full of excitement spread across her face, I could see that her two front baby teeth were missing. She is probably around 8. She is simple. And it seemed to me that she liked not only throwing the plastic bottle like a baseball, but she liked kicking it around like a soccer ball as well. So we kicked it back and forth. She wore no shoes, and I cringed every time she would go to kick the bottle because I kept thinking she would scuff her foot on the road. But she never did. As I would kick it back to her, it seemed like her smile grew bigger. She was content.
If one was to journey up the road a few feet and look into their yard, you’d see a bike hanging on a fence, a tiny red scooter that was faded and scuffed up from constant use, and a tiny plastic dump truck that also looked well played with. A white cat and her kitten and a tiny dog no bigger than a rat often times will follow the children around and play “tag” with them. One of the kids will chase the dog, the dog will will make a circle around the house, and then turn around and chase the kids. At one point or another, the kitten will ambush the dog, and attack. They continue on with that game maybe for hours. A walk in the house proves to be as simple and little as the outside. No toys lie about the house, a few chairs circle around the small, old TV, and only two coffee cups (out of many that shattered) remained on the kitchen counter.
As this girl, my niece, and I kicked a “soccer ball” back and forth, I realized how she and her brother truly didn’t have that much. They had each other, three toys, two cats, and a dog. But compared to many children I know, they have a lot. They don’t have material things, like many children of this generation have. They don’t have Ipods, phones, game systems, or a computer. They probably don’t watch endless hours of mind numbing television. They most likely spend more hours outside, barefoot, than they do inside, and they obey the rule of staying out of the street. They know life to be simple. One truck is enough for the boy. They both know that they have to share the scooter because having individual scooters really isn’t in their parent’s budget.
I took an art class in college this past year, and my teacher was telling a story to the class about her observation of a child at an airport. A young boy of about five was making all these “fighting” noises. You know, those noises that occur when a superhero is beating up a villain. Pow pow…pop…wop wop! But as my professor was looking for the little action figure he was playing with she realized that he only had a leg of whatever superhero action figure it belonged to. The little boy didn’t need the entire toy to make it a superhero, he just needed the leg and a lot of imagination.
Like that little boy, my niece took a simple piece of plastic and made it into a toy. With her imagination it was as round as a ball would be, because it was a ball. The saying goes, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Whoever decided that plastic bottle was garbage made one little girl and boy very happy.
Unfortunately, many children I know often times rule the house, even if they parents don’t quite realize it.
“Have a toy.”
“Have another toy.”
“Here have an Iphone.”
This girl taught me something in the time I got to play with her. She taught me that life doesn’t have to be complicated, it can be quite simple if we make it to be. With a little imagination and TLC something can become anything. Where there is hope, there is away. And less is often times more.