My husband’s work badge was missing. It was a weekend, so we weren’t too worried. It would turn up somewhere.
I was cleaning and searching at the same time. While making my daughter’s bed, I noticed an unopened can of condensed milk wedged next to the wall. I grinned, my daughter loves to lick the spoon when I make Brazilian lemonade, so she must have been saving some for rough times. There was more. I reached down and found a glittery pipe cleaner, my metal measuring spoons, and …. the ever-disappearing nail clippers.
I moved the mattress out of the way to see what else was hidden underneath and fished out some hair clips that had mysteriously vanished from the grocery bag a week ago, a bobbin from my sewing machine, a calculator, an old birthday card from great grandma, my Sam’s Club card, and an eyeglass repair kit. And, probably the newest item in the collection, there was my husband’s work badge.
I had discovered my daughter’s secret stash.
I took the badge and nail clippers, and left everything else in tact (fortunately, she is old enough not to put things in her mouth). I was reminded of the magpie, a European bird that collects anything shiny. Later, I deposited an old beaded hairband for our little magpie to find.
We have now established an official treasure place for my little girl in the back of one her toy shelves. It is high enough that only she can reach it. She is allowed to put anything in there, as long as she asks me first if it doesn’t belong to her and as long as she retrieves it whenever I need it. I wanted her to be able to collect the things she likes, without being secretive or afraid that I will take them away. From time to time, I peek at her ordinary treasures, sometimes discovering that a flashlight on a keychain can inspire more wonder than an expensive toy. I also sense a quiet, wordless sentimentality.
Weeks later, I couldn’t find my cell phone. I asked my daughters if they had seen it. The younger one quietly turned around and walked down the hall into her room. I heard her pull her cash register off the shelf, heard a loud “ka-ching!”, and a few seconds later she came back and wordlessly handed me my cell phone.
I noted that we now have two magpies.
Maha Ezzeddine lives in Houston, Texas with her husband and three daughters. She is a dedicated MAS worker, part-time writer, and creative homemaker.