Finding Jewels in a Sandbox


Photo by Louisa Hennessy under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0

Every other week or so, my daughter, LC, comes homes from preschool clutching an envelope containing a handful of colorful sequins and plastic rhinestones.  This means the “Jewel Fairy” has recently visited her preschool, sprinkling jewels in their sandbox area.  Often on these special days when I come to pick her up, I’ll find a gaggle of kids scouring the sandbox for little plastic jems.  LC revels over her jewels on the way home, admiring each one, often showing them off to the adoring teachers at my son’s afterschool program.  When we get home, LC carefully tucks them away in her jewelry box (usually after arranging the entire collection elaborately on the floor first.)

It was on one of those days at preschool where the Jewel Fairy had recently visited that I had just come from a career coaching session with a graduate student who likened her job search to “finding a needle in a haystack”.  And now here I was at LC’s preschool watching 3 and 4-year-olds crouching down and intently searching for plastic jewels in a giant sandbox. It was a game, yes, but something they were all taking quite seriously.

Finding jewels in a sandbox.

I’m not saying a group of preschoolers hunting for baubles in a pile of sand and searching for a job is the same thing.  LC and her preschool friends (luckily) aren’t shouldered with bills to pay, visa issues, health insurance, families to support, etc. And still, there is something valuable about the element of play here, the pursuit and dedication to it. And there’s a lovely message, too, that I want to share with that graduate student (and all of us): yes, searching for a job can be like a needle in a haystack if you choose to view it that way.  But does that help you? And how true is that? (And more obviously, ugh, that makes it sound like a drag.)  What if searching for a job was more like searching for jewels in a sandbox: there is more than one out there for you, if you don’t find what you want right now, the Jewel Fairy will be back soon, and maybe, just maybe, you can even have some fun searching for it.


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4 Comments on “Finding Jewels in a Sandbox”

  1. cherylplotner
    April 22, 2015 at 9:27 pm #

    Thanks, Heather, for evoking a feeling of delight and curiosity about what pearl I may uncover in my research tomorrow! I may even place a little dish of “jewels” on my desk as a reminder when I sit down to read.

    • hlspain
      April 23, 2015 at 8:48 pm #

      That’s lovely, Cheryl. Maybe I’ll have my daughter send you one of hers!

  2. Candy Puterbaugh
    April 23, 2015 at 10:33 am #

    What a jewel of a story! I really liked your comparison, Heather. Attitude is everything, and a calligraphy about that hangs on our wall. I could just envision excited little LC with jewels in her tiny fist. The jewel fairy recently came to my almost-30 son who has been applying for an in-demand job for five years and hadn’t heard a peep. He applied one more time, got a callback the next day, and got hired. In hindsight, the wait was worth it because he’s more mature and fits the job better now. That jewel fairy has many people to visit, and sometimes may be five years away! –Aunt Candy

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