The Stolen Owl

I nervously clutched the yellow paper map the woman handed me. Her room was circled with her name written next to it. Room 109 right near the office.

We took a slight detour, going through the other part of the school first, passing my son’s room, pointing out the library, eventually making way through the many parents and excited kids in the halls.

“Look! Room 109, baby! Here’s your classroom!”

She’s been to many a parent teacher night. She’s seen the insides of many schools and many walls to classrooms her older siblings have been in. This is the first time these four walls were hers.

“Hello!” A bright and chipper skinny blonde lady called out to us. She was effervescent and contagious as she bent down to my daughter’s level. “I am so happy to have you here!”

She pointed out my daughter’s seat, and atop the desk was a small brown owl with wide eyes and a sweet card underneath.

“Hello! My name is Mrs. Kindergarten Teacher, and I am so happy to be your teacher this year! We are going to have a lot of fun in the Owl classroom! This is a picture of me and my daughter, so you can remember what I look like for the first day of school. I hope you enjoy the owl I made you. I am looking forward to OWL the fun we’re going to have this year!”

I wanted to cry at how perfect this moment was. My shy daughter’s eyes widened like saucers, inspecting every inch of her classroom, watching the other students find their desks, put their supplies away, clutch their owl gifts from their new teacher.

We walked out of there with a beaming five-year-old, ready to take on kindergarten and her first time away from us. We walked right out of that school and into a nearby restaurant, being famished and not prepared to whip something up quickly in order to satiate our appetites at home.

Inside the restaurant, we were surprised to find a hidden game room for the kids, one chock-filled with quarter-collecting video games and wallet-sucking rides. It was an area that attracted our kids like a magnet – they went off to play while we navigated ordering. Moments later, she emerged, sitting at our table. Without her owl.

“Oh! I forgot my owl and my paper (card)!”

She came back with her card, but no owl. The kids searched. My husband searched. I grabbed an attendant and had them help us search, but to no avail. Someone had made off with her new owl gift from her teacher. It had been sitting with her “Welcome to my classroom” card, right on top, to be exact. The only kid inside the playroom with my kids was with their parents waiting on a to-go order, they must’ve seen my daughter with the owl she clung to. She put it down to run faster to play tag with the rest of the kids. That’s when whomever stole it made their move.

Someone stole from my daughter.

Someone mean-spirited and ungrateful took her toy and kept it for their own.

They took this heartfelt toy without a care, and left our girl confused and hurt, with her parents pissed off and shaking their fists at humanity.

I came home and immediately took to Etsy, determined to find a craftsperson who sold something similar.

And I found one, as if designed by destiny. One who lives in Austin, a mere forty-five minutes away. And she had a few already made and in stock, to be shipped in a business day.

She will have her replacement owl, even if it isn’t the same handmade one from her teacher. She will have an owl for her owl class and celebrate her newfound elementary school-ism, even if it isn’t the original, mommy and daddy will make it better that hers was stolen and is no longer with her.

I am still touched by the gesture her teacher made her, and am determined to replace that gesture for my daughter’s sake. Plus, the upside is I get to support a local crafter mom as well.

In the meantime, I am mourning the loss of her new friend owl alongside yet another summer day gone, as school trickles closer minute by minute. Despite her lovely teacher and pretty owl classroom, I am not ready to see her off just yet.

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