Most Australian schools require a uniform, and a hat as sun protection is a non-negotiable part of it. Australia has one of the highest rates of skincancer in the world, and Miss B’s school has a strict “no hat, no play” rule during the warmer months of the year.
The other morning, we had nearly completed our 20-minute walk to school when we realized that Miss B’s hat was not in her backpack. The thought of having to spend recess sitting on a bench in the shade brought her to tears, and I was unable to resist her piteous pleas that I go back home and fetch her hat. I had planned to go running after dropping her off anyway, so instead of following my usual route I figured I could run home, pick up the hat, run back again, drop it off, and run home again, covering more or less the usual time and distance. A little bit tedious, but a pretty small effort to expend to make an 8-year-old’s day.
I was back at school about a half-hour after dropoff, school hat in hand. I managed to catch Miss B’s eye through the classroom window, and waved the hat to show her it was there before stuffing it into her backpack. The ear-to-ear grin of delight, accompanied by Miss B’s trademark Tigger-bounce (seated version), was all the reward I could have hoped for. But as I crossed the playground on the way out, preparing to start the last lap home, I discovered another one waiting for me – a hat, perched on top of a piece of playground equipment.
But not just any hat. My hat. My green sun hat - which I’d been looking for, off and on, for weeks, and had just about decided, in exasperation, that I must have put in a donation bag by mistake – was sitting there on the school playground. Not in lost property; not hiding under a bush; but right there, at eye level, waiting to be found. And I still might never have, if not for my hat-related mission of mercy.
I still have no idea how the hat got there, nor what the moral of this tale of bizarre coincidence is. (Virtue is rewarded...with hats?)