Misplacing or leaving behind a favourite toy can be a traumatic experience for a child. The toy can provide comfort and a sense of security, and it might even be his best friend (that is, before he gets the chance make other friends in daycare or school). When your little one leaves his beloved stuffed animal at a restaurant miles away, you might feel helpless because you can't promise he'll get it back.
One lucky family was handed a clever solution to this problem after 3-year-old Eoin left Baa Baa the stuffed sheep in a cafe in Baltimore, Maryland. Eoin's mom, Ann Parker, called Golden West Cafe as soon as she realized Baa Baa was missing.
But the restaurant's marketing director, Kimberly Dorn, said another little girl was playing with the sheep and she might've taken it when her family left. When Parker told her son the bad news, she said he was upset for a little while but then had an unexpected response for a 3-year-old.
"He was like, 'Well, maybe that little girl just really needed a sheep and she didn't have one.'" Parker told TODAY. "I'm feeling guilty. I'm feeling angry. And then, my 3-year-old says, 'Well, maybe she just really needed the sheep.'"
Motivated by Eoin's kindness, Parker kept looking for Baa Baa. She posted about it on Facebook, and the restaurant did the same, but unfortunately Baa Baa never turned up. But Golden West Cafe employees were determined to find a solution.
First, Dorn bought another sheep online that resembled Baa Baa. Then she came up with a new name, Cousin Lamby, and a story for why it took him so long to get home to Eoin: He'd been working at Golden West Cafe, of course!
Dorn photographed the lamb having so much fun doing different things around the restaurant, from sitting at the counter and eating a cupcake, to swinging on a chandelier and picking a song on the juke box. She included the polaroids in the package she sent to Eoin.
When Eoin met Cousin Lamby earlier this week, Parker said he was ecstatic and thought the images were "hilarious." It was a great way for him to learn about disappointment, as well as the kindness of strangers, Parker said.
Eoin's parents might not have been the main players behind the plan to cheer up their little one, but it's definitely a strategy that parents can apply, too. For most little ones, knowing their best friend is having an adventure somewhere is sure to take some of the sting out of the loss.