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“If it were me, how would I like to be treated?”

April 18, 2010

All this, because we care…

Have you seen this little guy before?  My kids discovered him in a local park the other day.  Apparently a little girl left him behind. At first, when my daughter reported a “found tiger” and asked what to do, I suggested they best leave him where they found him. After all, a small child is going to notice a beloved  stuffie is missing rather quickly.

Then came the first worry — they had put him prominently on the park sign, where he would be easily seen. But, with clouds building in the sky, they were concerned what would happen if it rained. So, we got a clear plastic bag — one through which the little tiger would be easily seen — and a baggie tie and covered him with his new protective “raincoat.”  We were sure he’d be reunited with his owner by morning.

Only he wasn’t.  The next morning, he was still there, holding sentry on the sign. My kids worried again: what should they do?  What if it wasn’t even a neighbor child who’d lost him? We decided we’d leave him up on the sign and wait and see. Surely by midday someone would notice him AWOL.

By early afternoon, when the kids wanted to go to the part, he still hadn’t been found. The kids unwrapped him and dried the residual moisture off his cute fur — fluffing him up again.  “Harmou” (yes, now he has a name) spent the afternoon in the company of my kids and they hoped that the same people they had seen in the park the day before would come so they could return the tiger.  No such people ever showed.

When a large thunder cloud threatened to ruin the day, along with reported penny-size hail, they kids came in — and Harmou with them. In the meantime I’d had a chat with our gate personnel and they couldn’t think of anyone who matched the description of the little girl in the park and their advice was, “well, finder’s keepers, loser’s weepers.” True to an extent, but I didn’t like the image of a little girl weeping for her lost beloved tiger.

At bedtime we discussed Harmou’s plight.  Everyone agrees that the best outcome for the little wayfarer is to find his home and get him back in the hands of his little owner.  In the meantime, our “job” is to care well for little Harmou — so he was given a temporary stuffie “mom” to keep him company overnight.

I know this story is cute, but it carries a lesson.  This is compassion, empathy, and consideration at work.  The family is involved in what may seem like a trivial task, but we’re doing this because out there somewhere is a little girl who has lost something dear. We can all relate. That sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you know you’ve left something behind, something that is important to you.  Whether it’s a wallet full of money, a special jacket or scarf, perhaps a book or a picture — whatever it is, you hope someone finds it and returns it.

I suspect we’re going through all the exercises for nothing — Harmou’s owner will not turn up and my daughter will add another soft friend to her menagerie.  But it isn’t a complete waste of time and energy, it’s another chance to connect to kind, caring feelings and ask yourself: “if it were my <insert lost item here>, how would I want to be treated?”

Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes with compassion and trying to do the right thing is never a waste of time. Thank you, Harmou, for giving us another opportunity to connect with that.  Meanwhile, if you know of someone missing a tiger, tell her we have found him and he is safe.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mike Locander permalink
    April 19, 2010 1:54 pm

    The tiger reminds me of my childhood when we moved from the near outskirts of Chicago to the suburbs when I was 4 years old. My favorite
    stuffed animal ” Tony the Tiger ” with worn out fur and a small hole in his leg where the stuffing was falling out never made it onto the moving van.
    My parents assured me that Tony would be ok and perhaps he ran off to the circus to be with his friends. Forty years later I now understand the significance of Tony’s injuries and the efforts of my parents in explaining why it was time for him to “run-off” with the circus. My parent’s empathy for me and my 4 year old attachment to a stuffed animal that would not return is now one tool in my toolbox that I can use in building the character traits in my own children. Empathy, compassion, and consideration for the feelings of others are important today more than ever.

  2. Corinne Gregory permalink*
    May 12, 2010 11:39 am

    And, as a late-breaking update: as of this week, “Harmou” has been reunited with his rightful owner. It so happens the little Tiger belonged to one of my daughter’s friends. Further, the Tiger’s actual name is “Isabella” and her owner is VERY glad we not only found the precious stuffie (she’d only had it for a week when she lost it), but that little Tiger was so well cared-for. My daughter is naturally sad to lose her little Harmou, but she understands why this is the best outcome and the value of doing the right thing.

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