Last year I was forced to invent a child

Christmas 2010 happened to be the first Christmas that Akasha attended Kindergarten. So Akasha and I were both newbies to the ‘sending presents to Bosnia’ campaign.

I loved the plan and thought it would do Akasha good to take part. Though I’m not sure I explained it very well to her. The general idea is this: you find yourself an empty shoe box, wrap the lid and the base separately in wrapping paper and then fill the box with presents, for a child in Bosnia. Presents should include both new and second-hand items (second-hand could be a winter hat, a teddy, a small bag). The outside of the box must be labelled with the rough age of the intended child and it’s sex.

Seeing as Akasha had just turned four, I decided we should prepare a gift box for a four-year-old girl.

The Kindergarten teachers told parents enthusiastically, that the children love preparing their presents and they are photographed taking their boxes to the lorry, which will later become part of the convoy travelling to Bosnia.

So having made my decision to take part, I sat down with Akasha at the table and told her this story:

“There’s a little girl, she’s the same age as you, and she lives quite far away in a country called Bosnia. A few years ago there was a war there and the people who live there do not have very much. The little girl, for instance, does not have many toys, or many pretty clothes like you, Akasha. At Christmas time her parents can not afford to buy her presents, because they have to use what little money they have to buy basic food.
It’s sometimes scary growing up in a land where there has recently been a war and the little girl would really like it if you could give her one of your teddies to cuddle, so that she’ll feel safe.
Mummy wants to buy some little presents for the girl too. You can come shopping with me and we’ll buy the gifts together because you know exactly what a four-year-old girl likes best.”

The onslaught of questions that followed, both on that day, and on the run up to placing the box in the lorry, I could not have envisaged.

Akahsa wanted to know if the little girl had a baby brother or sister? Fully in the knowledge that teddies were highly sought after (we ended up with all the children donating heavily and me arriving at the Kindergarten, loaded with plastic bags) I answered yes. To which followed, does she have an older sister/brother?

A major issue Akasha focussed on was the name of the child. At first, I tried to tell her that the box could really go to any four-year-old girl, but she wouldn’t accept it. So one day, she had me on the hop and after a bit of quick thinking, I came up with the name ‘Soskia’, not Saskia – because Saskia is a really popular name in Germany and I had visions of the now obsessed child asking random Sakia’s if they had received her box, with her teddy and her bag, if she liked the necklace that had been custom designed for her and what she thought of the painstakingly drawn picture?

So Soskia was born.

And became pretty much a part of our every day lives.

Not just every time we went to the shops, when Akasha would select all kinds of purchases, in general,Invisible friend

unsuitable, due to costing Eur 200 or being potentially too delicate to survive the journey.


Santa comes on the 6th of December here. Which led to the inquisition: “Would Santa go to Soskia? Was she well-behaved enough? What would she get? But you said she wouldn’t get any Christmas pressies, mummy, and that’s why we’re giving her my teddy!”

And instead of the typical, “Are we there yet?” Time became filled with, “Has she got my parcel yet? Has she opened it yet? When will she open it?”

It’s now April. But still Soskia is always on the tip of Akasha’s tongue. Every toy she no longer wants, every dress she outgrows, is for Soskia.

Once a sibling scolded her for wasting her dinner, “I bet you Soskia is really hungry right now and would appreciate that food.”

Everything is misplaced. Akasha has an invisible friend. But I designed her.


22 thoughts on “Last year I was forced to invent a child”

  1. Awwwww, that is so cute. Makes me feel better about Cam and his little friend Emililily (he doesn’t know how to stop her name). x

    Although, Soskia has given me an idea for where to get rid of Cam’s frecking dummies!

  2. Isn’t it amazing how many questions arise from something we believe to be so simple? LOL I am glad your daughter is so concerned about her new friend and it is wonderful that we parents have ‘new’ friends to use to our advantage. Love your post and am always amazed at how you are never at a loss as to what you will write:)

    1. My head is overflowing with stories, problem is finding time to write them down.

      She’s off Kindergarten at the moment – bandaged hand, and fever – but managed to sing and chatter and ask questions all morning. (And we parents need to use everything we can)

    1. Very caring. Yesterday she got upset because she couldn’t help with the Big Clean. (Couldn’t help because hand bandaged and had a fever)

  3. I am so going to do this!

    I am going to design one for each of the twins – mine is also going to have a chocolate obsession at easter …..

    seriously though what a lovely little girl you have!

  4. We used to do those boxes too, but Kindy and school have decided that money is better because transportation is getting to be a problem. The money goes to a Foundation that buys the stuff locally and gives it out and the kids send decorated cards to go with the donations.
    It’s a pity because my kids liked buying the little bits and bobs to go into the boxes and whilst they didn’t need a “name” they did like scouring small toys and things to go into the boxes.
    Congratulations of your daughter “making it personal” in her own little way, if she chooses to do that by really imaging a ‘real” person then fine, I’d say play along.
    She will understand how it really works later on, but for now, there’s no harm in setting the scene and imagining where her shoe-box ends up.

    1. Parents who opt to give a box here, must pay a small charge towards the transportation.

      It is a pity that they have stopped the boxes where you are. The children giving get so much out of preparing the present, and I think (well hope) that such influences will teach them to be more caring people in the future. And I’m sure that the children receiving enjoy the uniqueness of personalised gifts.

      The reason I wrote the piece today was that she was looking at the photo of herself putting her box on the lorry, along with some other children. She then started asking about the names of the other Bosnian children receiving gifts from her friends. With the internet within my reach I looked up popular Bosnian girls names and then said the first one on the list.

      At this point I should tell you: I’m the worlds worst liar.

      As I stated the name, she looked at me, with an all knowledgeable look, and asked, “Do you know her? Have you met her? No? Then how do you know her name?”

      I have decided the four-year-old is way too intelligent for me.

  5. Lovely story. 10/10 to the German kindergarten. There was never anything like that here when my kids were growing up.

    1. She has a true and warm heart. If Soskia had half the fun with it that Akasha did, then I think she’ll be a happy little girl.

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