Only one thing made me feel sad and that was that there was a little girl's name written on the side five times.
It made me think about how kids grow up and don't want old toys no matter how cool they are or how much they used to love them. It made me think that maybe this little girl was now a mobile phone carrying teenager with pink streaks in her hair and an attitude. It made me happy for the blackboard that now it would be loved again, written on, treasured.
When Ma Fille saw it that afternoon set up in the playroom, chalk included, she was beyond thrilled. She adored it and I felt all warm and fuzzy and not just a little bit clever for seeing it and then 'dumpster diving' for her.
On top of where the other name was, she wrote hers. Five times. Claiming ownership. She spent hours playing teacher, instructing imaginary students as well as reluctant brothers in her newfound French knowledge.
|happy birthday to you|
And that's when it happened.
And the penny dropped. The name on the board was the same name as the little girl in front of me. She wasn't some adolescent, more interested in lip gloss and boys than playing teacher. And as she looked at the board, her board, with a mix of joy and confusion, my heart sank. I felt sick. We moved on and I tried to reconcile the idea that for some reason her board had been thrown out without her knowing and then I found it and now she's seen it again and oh, crap! what's going to happen.
Later that night as we sat together going over the success of the party, the phone rang.
It was the little girl's mother. She said that her daughter had seen her blackboard here that day and now they wanted it back. They'd never intended it to be rubbish. It was actually something quite precious to their family because the uncle made it for the little girl and something about a cleaner and a move and a mistake and many tears and now happiness and surprise at finding it again.
Huh? Talk about a scavenger hunt.
What could I do? What should I do? Well, I knew the answer to that but I also have a little girl who super rock n' roll loves that juju board.
The next morning they came to take it back bearing croissants and a whiteboard and markers in exchange. It was beyond awkward. I felt horrible and defensive in turn, none of this made any easier by the fact that the entire thing was conducted in French.
Now the board is back with its rightful owner. I don't know what really happened or why it was taken down to the sidewalk and leaned against the poubelles.
I never will.
The whiteboard has been a good substitute. Ma Fille is flexible. And she's learned to be giving and understanding and to do the right thing.
What do you think? Can you help me solve the mystery?