This afternoon, I ran over to the mall after Jason got home from work to exchange a sweatshirt I had ordered online at Lands End.
(It was this sweatshirt, and I loved it online but in person there were... so many wrong things happening in the way it fit me. SO MANY WRONG THINGS. For one, it looks like a mustard-y yellow online but in person it's... the weirdest green ever. Not a bad green, just an odd not-neon-but-pretty-much-neon green. Instead I picked up this cardigan (in charcoal grey) and this scarf (in the teal) instead, because I'm immensely predictable and my million-and-two cardigans and scarves in dark fall colors clearly aren't enough when I live in SOUTH CAROLINA, where the scarf is only justifiable for like two months in a year. This parenthetical aside has been going on way too long at this point. I kind of don't want to stop just to see how much of this you're willing to read. Who made it to the end? Show of hands!)
In any case, I ran into Sears, but forgot to go down to the first floor and ended up on the top floor with the mattresses and treadmills. I figured I'd stop by the restroom since it's up there in the very back corner anyway, almost invisible unless you're really really determined (or, in my case, if you once shopped for maternity clothing there while heavily pregnant, in which case knowing the nearest bathroom location is a matter of some importance and Sears helpfully puts the bathrooms right next to maternity clothing anyway).
I had had a couple of close calls on the way in (what is it about Saturday night that makes everyone in Greenville forget how to drive spontaneously?) so I was in a kind of bad mood, grumping to myself and sipping my cup of tea as though it had offended me in some way.
So I wander in, and there's two little girls sort of idly pushing each other back and forth in front of the mostly open stalls. They are maybe five and three years old respectively.
I frowned at them. They were blocking the stalls.
The three year old swirls around to look at me. She paused, and then put on her biggest smile and cheerfully shouted "Hola!"
I stopped. "Hello."
"Habla espanol?" I cannot even describe the bouncy glee with which she addressed me. This was a little girl for whom all things were wonderful and life was full of surprises and I kind of expected Disney critters to alight on her shoulders and start singing songs.
"Uh... no, I'm sorry. I only speak English." I hesitated. "I'm sorry," I said again, actually worried I had disappointed her.
Nothing was going to ruin this little girl's mood, though. If anything, her smile got wider.
"That's okay!" She replied, inexplicably doing jazz hands at me. "I speak English, too!"
I heard muffled laughter coming from inside one of the closed stalls. Exasperated, helpless laughter.
"I'm... gonna just go out on a limb here and say the woman laughing is your mom, huh?"
The three year old shouted "Yes! Yes, she is!" at the top of her lungs and then promptly dropped down and stuck her head under that stall, talking to her mother at lightning speed. The back half of her was still sticking out in the aisle, the front half under the stall door.
The five year old and I exchanged looks, mine baffled and hers somewhat resigned, the kind of 'what can you do' face you expect to see on a thirty year old.
The five year old just kind of shrugged.
I shrugged back and went into the stall.
When I came out, another woman was just coming in, and the two girls were still there. The little one turned to the newest bathroom visitor and shouted "Hola!" at her just as loudly and cheerfully as she had me, and went in for the hug. The new visitor, a Sears employee, looked at me with the expression of a deer who had just been embraced by some kind of lion.
I shrugged and smiled at her, left the bathroom, and found myself humming a little song as I went down the escalator towards the Lands End department.
As I walked towards the register to begin the exchange, I thought I can't wait until I'm steadfastly trying to get my daughter to stop doing that.