My mom was not home, and I had a fantastic idea. I always loved the idea of surprising people, of having some sort of unexpected gift ready when they got home, of wowing them. My mom would say: “I’m going to go take a nap… I just wish one day some elves would come and clean the living room while I slept.” And to her amazement, IT WOULD HAPPEN! Or so she thought. I was clever like that.
Well this time I was really going to make her day. My mom had these little faceless dolls in our china cabinet. And I had markers. I was going to make them all smile. I was going to complete my mom’s dolls, bring them to life. A few minutes later, all of her little dolls had eyes, a nose, and a crooked smile, and I was proud of my work.
The look on my mom’s face when she came home and saw my creation was not what I had expected. It looked, at first, as though she were upset. She clearly didn’t understand. I explained that now her dolls were smiling, that I’d wanted to surprise her. She then smiled along with the little dolls, except her smile didn’t bleed lipstick all around her face like the dolls’ smiles bled marker. She loved my gift. She loved it so much that she wanted it to be a special gift, and special gifts are only given once— that’s what makes them special. So to keep it special I had to make sure I never ever did anything like that again.
Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them.
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince