It's time for The Last Big Thing on my pre-trip "To Do" list. Everything else is done, completed, marked off.
This is usually the last chore before we leave on a Hospital trip. Aside from the last-minute ritual of throwing clothes in the general vicinity of the open suitcase, carefully packing the laptop, and loading approximately seven hundred million pounds of unneeded stuff into the back seat of the van that Twink "...just can't live without, Mom". You would think we were going on a mission to Mars, the way this kid drags along everything she owns.
But today, Twinkle went to get the toys.
At the Hospital, there is a huge toy bin in the Clinic. As each child gets done, they pass by the toy bin, and they pick out a toy or two. When Twink was just a baby, we learned that there is a never-ending struggle just to keep that bin full of toys for the kids at the clinic. That was when we started saving our "Happy Meal" toys.
You know - the toys that come with most fast-food kiddie meals. These toys are remarkable in that kids universally seem to want them - and instinctively seem to know how they work, and who or what they are without even *glancing* at the wrapper that the toy came in.
So there we were (probably tens years ago now) with a bag full of fast-food toys; we took them with us to the Hospital the next trip. They were so grateful to get this puny little bag of freebie toys; it really made me sad to think that there might be kids who didn't get a toy after going through Clinic. That was when we decided to start saving all of our fast-food toys for the toy bin at the Clinic.
And save them we did. I've lost count of how many bags and bags and bags of toys we have taken along to the Hospital over the years. We have also gotten our friends, families, and neighbors in on it; they help us save toys for the toy bin also. We never ask a child to give up a toy - we only ask that if they get a duplicate, or a toy that they don't want, to please set it aside, and we'll take it with us.
So, today we went around and collected up all the toys we could. It was a great day; we have filled a huge box that we will take with us. I know that it won't fill the toy bin even half full, but it will help. Twinkle loves to gather the toys, and as she has gotten older, she has taken this on as her own project. I'm so proud of her; she even sorts them out, so that there is a separate group of "baby-safe" toys for the patients that are ages three and under.
We'll deliver the toys on Wednesday, when we go to the Hospital.
The kicker to this whole thing is that Twink typically doesn't take a toy from the bin. It's not that she doesn't appreciate the idea; she's a kid, after all - free stuff means you don't have to spend any of your hard-earned allowance. But for the last couple of years, she has been so focused on filling the toy bin, that she never takes any for herself. She's already figured out how great the joy of giving is.
She really is the most incredible kid. I often wonder what we did, how we got so lucky to be her parents.