By TMoM Team Member Ellen Bryant Lloyd
“OOOOOHHHHHHHH, Daddy, LOOOOOK! I found the SUNSHINE SPRINKLES!! Just LOOK! Aren’t these Sunshine Sprinkles beautiful? I LOVE them! YAY for SUNSHINE SPRINKLES!”
I was grocery shopping when I heard these words enthusiastically spoken by a joy-filled child. She skipped in my direction to meet up with her father, a few feet away. I glanced to my left as the wisp of a girl stood on her tiptoes. She was holding up the bottle of sunshine yellow sugar sprinkles as close as she could to her father’s face.
Her smile spread the entire width of her face as she started bouncing with enthusiasm, waiting for him to respond to her. “Yes, dear, the sunshine sprinkles are very pretty. I am sure you will find fun ways to use them,” he replied with an equally wide smile.
“I know I will, I just love them! Thank you so much for letting me get them!” she said as she started skipping ahead of him down the aisle, with the sprinkles securely gripped in her hand as her arm bobbed up and down.
My path through the store continued to be in line with the girl and her father. So, I witnessed her continued enthusiasm the remainder of my shopping trip. I thought about how a $2.19 bottle of “sunshine sprinkles” brought this child so much joy. It sparked her imagination as she voiced ideas of things to adorn with sprinkles of sugar sunshine. My heart was full to see such a positive exchange between a father and daughter and to feel great joy radiate from the little girl.
My mind then flashed back to another interaction I observed the week prior. This one was between a mother and young girl at a big box store. The girl walked close to her mother as they moved through the aisles. Each time the girl moved closer to look at something on a shelf, made a comment or asked about something she liked, the mom either ignored her or snapped at her to be quiet and get back to the cart. She immediately obeyed but the light in her face quickly drained.
I was in an area where I could see the exchanges between the girl and her mother for at least ten minutes. Each time it was the same. I clearly did not know anything more about the situation other than what I observed. It is possible they were in a hurry or the girl had wandered off during a previous shopping trip and had not earned her mother’s trust to venture beyond the cart. I have no idea. But, I do know that the look on the girl’s face made me feel that her curious, creative spirit and her joy had been somewhat squashed, which saddened me.
These two situations reminded me how important it is to nurture the curious, creative, wondrous nature of children and not stifle it. I believe children are naturally joy-filled until they are taught or conditioned to be otherwise. Children who are allowed and encouraged to seek out the sunshine sprinkles of life will likely grow up to be adults who continue to sprinkle sunshine everywhere they go.
“Sunshine sprinkles” now represent pure joy and happiness to me. I will forever remember the sweet girl at the grocery store who unknowingly introduced me to them. She inspired me to get a bottle of my own and spread sunshine sprinkles, literally and figuratively, every day. I encourage every parent to do the same. Maybe even get a bottle for your children, just like the girl’s dad did. YAY for SUNSHINE SPRINKLES!
Ellen Bryant Lloyd is a writer and mom of two children, one who has flown from the nest and the other is not far from it. She blogs about perspectives on life and parenting at mindfulmom.wordpress.com and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue, a freelance writer and memoir ghostwriter. Ellen lives in Greensboro with her husband, her daughter, when she is home from college, and the sweetest dog ever. She looks forward to seeing her son, who is now living and working in a nearby metropolitan city, as often as possible.
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Such a sweet story, Ellen! Thank you for sharing!