So if I were to mention the word “tootsie-pop” what might your first thought be? Would it be that famous phrase, “how many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie-pop?” or just simply that you wished you had one in your hand? This used to be my response as well, until one little girl changed how I will always remember them.
It was June 14, 2008, the last day we had to play with some of the gypsy children in a small village just outside of Kosice, Slovakia. We were told that because this was a smaller group of children we could feel free to had out toys we had brought with us, so long as the distribution was equal. From various suitcases came: toy cars, jump-ropess, hair-ties, soccer balls and bubbles; chalk was set out to color the road in front of the church being built. I remember mostly taking pictures of all that was oing on around me. There were groups playing tag, throwing a ball around, jumproping, making tracks in the dirt with hotwheels and, the most famous activity, rolling and sliding down a nearby hill. I put down my camera for a while to do hair with some other girls on our team when Lance, our team leader, walked up with a box of tootsie-pops, asking for all the children’s atention. While his wife Miska transalted, Lance explained that each child could have one sucker, one being the key word. Now Lance is a big guy, especially when you are no bigger than four feet tall, but this made no difference to one little girl. I reached for my camera again and had noticed this particular little gitl when she happened to drop her jump-rope. My eyes followed her hand and landed on her sock. I knew it wasn’t normal for her to have a bump the size of a golf ball on her calf, so I looked closer. In addition to the sucker that was in her mouth, she had one in her sock and one in her pocket. All I could do was laugh, how was it that this little girl could pull something like this on big Lance?
Now you might be wondering, ok what’s the point? At that moment it hit me, those tootsie-pops held so much more value to her and every other gypsy child in Slovakia than they ever would for me an American’s alike. I felt sick to my stomach remembering all the little things I took for granted; even being on foodsstamps, my family was better off than any of these gypsy children. The lesson learned was not only being thankful for all that I have, but also that there will always be someone worse off than I am; someone who sometimes just needs a “tootsie-pop” to make their life that much sweeter.
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