Above my desk I have a picture of a Haitian toddler playing with what looks like an old Sunkist container. This child has no shoes or pants, just underwear and white t-shirt. If you look closely at the picture, you can see flies resting on his long eyelashes. That dirt road is his home. He plays contently with the container while his mother sits in the shade, watching.
She smiles as I squat down to the child's level and try to hand him a real toy, a clean one. My pockets are full of small, plastic red firemen and I extend one to him. He looks at his mother, unsure. She takes it and hands it to him for me, and I'm glad to know that at least for now, he doesn't have to play with garbage.
I grew up as an only child and my G.I. Joes and Hot Wheels kept me company for hours. But I took them for granted. On Christmas morning new toys would be waiting under the tree for me, even though the toys I already had piled up in my bedroom were more than enough to keep me entertained. One year I got the Starship Enterprise and with the push of a button could make the aircraft sound like it was shooting lasers at enemy planets. Another year I got a hot pink bike, and complained about the color.
I never would have played with a Sunkist container, and if I had my mom would have slapped my hand and exclaimed, “That’s dirty!”
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