Cheryl Hughes: Blue Mermaid
When my granddaughter, Sabria, was about three years old, she found a blue mermaid in a thrift shop. It was purchased for her, and she carried it everywhere. She slept with it and even played with it in the bathtub. After bath time, I would squeeze as much water out of it as I could then hang it by the tail fin to dry. Blue Mermaid was made from cloth and had blue yarn hair.
When Sabria and I visited an aquarium, she found a pink mermaid in the adjoining gift shop. It was the same size as Blue Mermaid. I bought it for her, so she had two mermaids that swam in the bathtub with her. We had both blue and pink tail fins dripping from hangers on the shower curtain rod.
Several other mermaids joined the group until she had an entire family of sisters in an array of different colors. Blue Mermaid continued to be part of the activities, splashing in the bathtub or lined up in the toy room, having picnics and other family outings.
When Sabria and her mom moved out (she was four at the time), she wanted the mermaids to continue living at my house. She said they would be safe here, and she would visit them. I was glad to have their company. I knew she and her mom had to move on with their lives, but it was heart breaking to watch them drive away.
I still have the family of mermaids. They live in a cloth bin in my house. Sabria has long since outgrown them, but I never will. They are a reminder of a little girl’s inclusive spirit. When Sabria found Blue Mermaid in that thrift store, she was not much to look at. Evidently, before the doll was donated, another little girl decided she needed a haircut. Most of the blue yarn at been cut at the sides of her head and the spiky little pieces above her forehead must have been an attempt at bangs. There were just a few pieces of longer yarn that came from the doll’s crown and hung down her back. Sabria either didn’t notice or it didn’t matter to her. She loved Blue Mermaid at first sight.
Adults are the ones who point out flaws and imperfections to children. I didn’t buy Blue Mermaid for my granddaughter. The person who did had enough sense to let her choose without pointing out the flaws in her choice. I don’t know that I would have been that perceptive. Sabria’s mom, Natalie, carried around a cloth doll that had lost a foot. It always bothered me, I’m ashamed to say.
At the end of her third-grade year, when I picked Sabria up from school, she pointed out a little boy who was struggling to walk down the sidewalk. “Leo is doing so much better,” she said, “He can walk so much further by himself than he could at the first of the year. I’m so proud of him!”
You see, Leo had suffered a stroke early on in his life. I saw a little boy facing insurmountable odds. Sabria saw improvement and hope for the future.
Sabria is ten years old, and I wish more than anything that I could keep the claws of pessimism and cynicism from ever getting her in their clutches, but I know I can’t. They come for us all when our guard is down.
The book of Hebrews admonishes us to “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.”
I’ve seen my own negative attitude creep in on my children’s happiness. Since Sabria was born, I have done everything in my and God’s power to make sure I don’t do that to her. Grandchildren really are a second chance to get things right. Blue Mermaid will always be around to remind me.