Always Real

The Little Girl In The Sandbox

Last week was Spring break in our area and the weather was as nice as it ever gets around here. Sean and I took the opportunity to visit a nearby park that has a sizeable sandbox, some major playground equipment, a trail that winds through a wooded area and even a shallow rocky riverbed that is perfect for skipping stones.  In short – little boy heaven.

Apparently everyone in the entire school district had the same idea as the park was swarming with kids.  Sean and I set up camp in the sandbox where we were building infrastructure for a future sand castle development when a little girl about seven or eight sat down beside us and took up residence.

“How do you get blind?” she asked me out of the blue. I have that affect on children, they see my wisdom and they are drawn to me.  Either that or they can smell the tootsie rolls I keep in my pocket.

I looked around to see where her mother might be but there were so many kids running here and there, it was hard to tell who belonged to whom.

“Um, well, there are a number of ways people can become blind….” I started to explain.

And then I hesitated because I wasn’t quite sure where and how far to go with this conversation and where in the heck was this kid’s mother anyway.

“There are a 100 blind people at my school!” she exclaimed

“Or really? 100?  That is a lot of blind people.”

“Well, really there’s just one.”

“Oh.  Just one.”

Sean and I continued our work in the sandbox and she continued to sit nearby and twirl her long ponytail and tell fantastical tales.  I would occasionally look up at her and smile.  It’s hard to know in a situation like that how much to engage a child.  I was, afterall, a stranger. To be guarded in such a manner, against a child, works against the very core of being, my being that is now a mother and programmed to look out for all children.

“My mom yells at me,” she offered.


“One time she hit me, right here,” she said pointing to a small cut above her eye.

“Oh really?” I asked trying not to sound alarmed.

“Sometimes she throws me across the room.”


Oh my, oh my, how I wish she hadn’t said that.  It’s hard to know when to believe kids.  Just a few minutes earlier, this same little girl had told me there are 100 blind people at her school.  Sean will tell you he has a farm in Canada and a girlfriend named Cindy, neither of which is true.

I pray to God that he doesn’t tell strangers that I hit him or throw him across the room.

But if it were true, I pray to God that a grown up would believe him and do something about it.

Then she got up and ran off. She disappeared into the sea of running, sliding, swinging, bicycling, screaming, squealing children.  I tried to follow her with my eyes. Sean tugged on my arm, he had sand in his eye. When I look up again she had vanished.

And if I had watched her run back to her mother, what then? What would I do?  What would you do?

The lonely little girl in the sandbox with the long ponytail left me with a big question mark and a broken heart.

6 thoughts on “The Little Girl In The Sandbox

  1. Wow, that’s a tough one.

    I’d probably go back to the park as often as I could until seeing her again.

    And then? I don’t know.

  2. I’m not sure what I would have done either. I think that I would be on the lookout for her, and then it would depend on what I saw. I might contact child protective services, or maybe seek advice from a clergy or someone.

    Wow. I wouldn’t know how to make it out either. Could be one of her fantastical tales, or not.

  3. That would have freaked me out. My own Emme is quite the story weaver. But I’m HOPING that she tells people that her mother is a famous opera singer, when I’m not around. I’ve had to teach her to begin her “stories” with “once upon a time” if there is no truth to them.

    I don’t know what I would have done in your sandy shoes.

  4. I have a girl who is nearly 7, she’s the second oldest of five. I have heard her say things that are “not so” to get attention, but I’m not sure she would say something so specific to a stranger. Maybe the “blind people” in her school are the ones who are choosing not to “see” her pain, in her eyes.
    I would keep her in mind and if given the chance, ask her where she goes to school, you know, in a friendly chit-chat sort of way. Then, if given more suspicious tidbits, I would call and visit with the principal. Educators are required by law to report any signs of abuse, and maybe you would just be another witness in an already ongoing case. You can always remain anonymous and if it’s unfounded then so be it. However, if she’s suffering and reached out to you and you do nothing, you’ll soon become “the blind lady at the park in the sandbox.” Just my thoughts…………

  5. That is tough. It makes you think, though. My son tells people he:
    ~Was raised by wolves
    ~Has his own rocket (no doubt influenced by Jimmy Neutron)
    ~Is leaving friday when the magic flying bus picks him up and takes him to, “the north-of-south pole.
    I sincerely HOPE none of it is true! LOL!

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