When she was in kindergarten, Selam lost baby. Twice. The first time was in the mall. When we realized that Baby was gone, we went searching for her. And found her. On top of the 25 cent candy machines. The second time, she was missing for 3 days. We looked everywhere. Finally, we remembered that she had had her one Sunday afternoon when we were at the JCC parking lot loading Girl Scout Cookies into our scouts’ family cars. Baby had been left on the grass next to the farthest parking lot. Three days later, we remembered. I drove back there, with no expectation of recovery. She was there. She was wet, but she was there.
Today, we went to see a movie at a theatre 35 minutes from home (we were meeting friends). After the movie, I noticed Selam’s backpack was missing. We went back and asked at the ticket counter. They had her backpack, but it was open. Her Barbie Doll–adorably clad in her astronaut outfit–was missing. Selam was crestfallen. The woman at the counter let us go back in the theatre with her, but the previews were on and the family seated in our new seats was not willing to stand up and look for her.
I left my name and number with the ticket counter. We went to a restaurant for lupper. When it was done, our friends left and Selam and I went back one last time. The movie was still going. We waited ten minutes. The ticket counter lady remembered us, and said she’d already asked the cleaning crew about the doll.
When the movie got out, we hovered at the ticket collector spot. Selam tried to engage the teenage ticket taker in talking about her Barbie or her wiggly tooth. He was interested in neither. Finally, perhaps because we annoyed him, he told us we could go in there. We walked into the theatre, and saw four adults on the floor with flashlights. One pulled up a Barbie Doll with a homemade haircut, and a space suit on, hoisted it over her head, and the others cheered; she began running it out the door, and then saw us, and handed it to us. It was the ticket counter woman.
“Thank you!” Selam said, clutching Barbie to her chest.
“I still have my first Barbie. I would be sad if she were lost,” she said by way of explanation.
We split, and then right as we were to leave, Selam said, “how did she know this was my first Barbie?”
I couldn’t remember telling her, so we went back to ask her, as she sat in her polyester vest behind the ticket counter.
“Excuse me. How did you know this was my first Barbie?”
“Well, you came back for her, didn’t you?”
“Then she matters.”
She did matter. Selam is not a collector. She has one babydoll: Baby. She does not want any more. She has one Barbie Doll. She’s all set.
In the car on the way home, Selam announced, “sometimes I think I’m just really lucky, Mommy.”