She was zipped up in sleeper pajamas at 6 pm, strapped in to a highchair inside the McDonalds playplace. I was there for work, but she was there with her siblings and her dad, who was listening intently to headphones nearby. Her siblings scampered off in socked feet to chase one another, but she stayed strapped in.
She wasn’t protesting, not enough to make a scene anyway. She had a straw that kept her occupied, but she mostly just sat and stared. So, I stared at her too. I wondered at this beautiful little one – what she was thinking and what she wasn’t. I wondered why she showed so little expression on her cherub, fast-food face.
She was staring in my direction and I just couldn’t help it. My face slowly started to glow (in the way one does when talking to a 2 year old). My eyebrows arched and my mouth formed that humiliating “O” but her gaze still seemed set just behind my shoulders. I persisted with “hi there’s” and “hellos” until her eyes shifted ever so slightly and she blinked.
She blinked and I felt myself come into her view.
Yes! Yes, little one I am looking at you with my goofy eyes and silly statements. She finally saw me and slowly realized she was the target of my (still very respectful and public) affection. I’m almost certain I didn’t imagine that her face eased into recognition and responded with dimpled cheeks.
Her delight melted my heart and I wanted to give her goofy eyes much longer than would have been socially acceptable. I wanted, at least, to know that this little one gets the kind of affection that brings the kind of delight that melts a person’s heart.
I wanted that for the little girl in the zipped up pink pajamas in the McDonald’s playplace tonight.