The Plates in the Dairy Aisle

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He nearly took me out, rushing past in a spinning flurry.  It surprised me, to be honest.  He was taller than me, gangly in that early-teen-boy kind of way, with unruly, curly dark hair.


I heard his mom’s weary voice behind me, “Chris, there’s not much room in here…”  But she was in no hurry to go catch him.


I didn’t fault her for this.  I had a feeling she probably dealt with this quite a bit in the grocery store.  It wasn’t particularly busy that time of day.  It’s why I had chosen it to shop with my toddler, and I’m guessing it’s why she chose it, too.


Still, there were lots of raised eyebrows.  Lots of muttered remarks.  And even more looks of general confusion.


Me?  I’d be one in that last group.  The truth of it all is very simple– I’m just not used to navigating around a child who is exploring his space so fully and, to my inexperienced eye, randomly.   I wasn’t the least bit bothered, but I had no idea how to anticipate where he’d be next or how he’d react if I got in his way.  Ignorant much?  Probably.  But it’s the truth.


I turned into the dairy aisle and had to stop short when I realized this young man had plopped down right in the middle.  He had a package of paper plates and he was spinning it on the floor.  I wasn’t really sure where to go or what to say.  So I stood there, trying to figure out an appropriate response.  (I’m a thinker.  And I like to believe I’m kind.  But I’m not always blessed with perfect responses.)


My two-year-old, however, doesn’t bother stopping to think.  She can be kind, but she can also be blunt in the way of toddlers.  While her mama stood, frozen in silence, she stepped forward.


She sat next to him.  And, I won’t lie to you; I worried how he might respond.  He didn’t seem to notice her.


” ‘Is fun?” she asked him, watching the plates spin.  She reached for them, and his eyes darted toward her hand, but he said nothing.  “It wooks fun!” she said, bright smile in place.


His mother stood next to me, watching my daughter tip her big blue eyes up toward her son’s face.  He wasn’t interested in making eye contact with my stubborn little girl, but he didn’t seem bothered by her either.


And then he handed her the plates.


I don’t even know what to say about all this.  Except that I cried.  And his mother did, too.


I don’t know how significant that was.  I know that it meant something.


And I know that, as always, I continue to learn from these beautiful little people I’ve brought into this world.

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