Gabriella and the Trophy

Gabriella and the Trophy

From Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul

Gabriella and the Trophy

If enough people think of a thing and work hard enough at it, I guess it’s pretty nearly bound to happen, wind and weather permitting.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

The lights dim as the music level rises. Thirty children of assorted shapes, sizes and ages are presenting a dance recital in the school gymnasium/auditorium. All the parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are there. Hundreds of them fill the seats. This is the first public performance of my young granddaughter, Gabriella.

Gabriella is two years old. She is appearing in the recital as a pink bunny in a routine called “Animal Crackers in My Soup.” She executes her part admirably, even though the bunny ears have slid down her face during a particularly athletic sequence and hang around her neck by a piece of white elastic. After a few attempts to reinstall the ears, she leaves them where they are like an ear necklace and catches up with the rest of the chorus line of members of the animal kingdom.

Two hours pass, and the show is drawing to a close. Thirty children and young persons are lined up on stage, the two- and three-year-olds in the front and the sixteen-year-olds in back, with the other ages filling the spaces in-between for the finale and the presentation of trophies.

The pink bunny with the ears clenched in her left hand steps out of line, crosses front stage and stands quietly at the kneecaps of the trophy presenter. Her right hand reaches up toward the trophy and runs out of length about two inches from the base. The presenter seems totally unaware of the silent pink bunny standing directly under her gaze. As she reads the name on the trophy, a young lady breaks from the group and claims the trophy over the head of the pink bunny still standing with hand outstretched, waiting now to claim the next one.

Herein begins the most amazing display of group dynamics I have ever witnessed. The silent determination of that two-year-old unifies hundreds of people in a space of about ten minutes. Mental messages converge into one growing breath of encouragement to the pink bunny as each trophy passes over her outstretched hand to another. With infinite patience and assurance, she waits. Ten names, ten trophies, and still she waits with hand held high. Somewhere around trophy number twenty, a brief struggle within a pink bunny is read from her body language by an intensely sympathetic audience. The bunny’s eyes drop to the ears she is holding in her other hand and for one brief moment, her face falls. I feel the silent thoughts of those around me join my own . . . “No, no, it has nothing to do with your ears falling off. You are not a failure; your trophy is coming. Take heart!” The message is received, and the expression on the bunny’s face changes to annoyance. Both hands go to her lips, her lower lip is stuck out in a pout, and the tiny face tilts upwards to its most extreme angle, but still no trophy.

A two-year-old monkey from the same dance sequence joins the bunny at front stage right for a whispered conversation. The eyes of the bunny and the monkey travel from the box of trophies to the presenter . . . more whispering. The audience is adding the words in their minds to the scene on stage. “You could tackle her around the legs, and I could grab two trophies, jump off the front of the stage and run out the back door.” Now, the audience is howling with laughter, some stomping on the floor as if to force the laughter out faster, some holding stomachs to keep the laughter from bursting out the seams of the body and wiping tears streaming down cheeks. After considering the plan, the pink bunny shakes her head “No” and the plan is discarded. The monkey steps back in line and the audience settles back tentatively in their seats. The presenter, for whatever reason, continues to ignore the pink bunny.

Twenty-three trophies and still no trophy for Gabriella. The bunny shows signs of losing heart; her eyes are downcast, the lower lip trembles. Again there are waves of silent encouragement from beyond the stage, and even a few murmured . . . “Don’t give up” . . . and “It’s coming.” The bunny makes a decision. She is still at the kneecaps of the presenter. Her face is once more raised in expectancy and slowly the right hand reaches up as the bunny resumes the stance of the first fifteen to twenty minutes. A collective sound arises from the audience, which can only be described as one giant moan.

The twenty-ninth trophy is Gabriella’s. When it is transferred to the hands of the pink bunny, the entire audience stands up and cheers the loudest, longest, most emotional ovation of the night. The ovation is for the two-year-old in the bunny suit who taught a lesson in faith, determination and patience this night.

Barbara E. Hoffman

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: Gabriella Maria Kramer is the middle child of my son Robert and his wife Maria. Sara, Gabriella and Michael are miracle children, born after eight years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive. We see them as gifts from God in gratitude for the loving care given by their parents to the adopted sister they never knew, teachers of loving lessons and a constant reminder that God’s plan is greater than our own. I dedicate this story to the memory of Rachel Emily Kramer, an HIV-positive infant abandoned in a hospital at three months of age and taken into the hearts of this family.]

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners