‘I really like your boots,” I said as I walked past the little girl with a tousled muss of blonde curls and her mama, I assume, sitting on a bench in the hallway at work. “I wish I had some boots like that.”
The little girl’s legs barely dangled over the cushion of the bench and the brown suede fringe of her boots swayed as she swung her feet back and forth, back and forth as I walked near. But as soon as the words came out of my mouth, she stopped and swiftly tucked her legs underneath her.
Her mama smiled and rubbed the little girl on the head, forcing the obligatory, “What do you say?” as the little girl buried her face in her shoulder. She mumbled a thank you and the woman said, “She’s shy,” and I smiled and told her I understood. Then I went on my way.
I came back by a few minutes later from the other direction and they were still sitting there — the little girl with the tousled muss of blonde curls and her mama and I smiled as I passed by and couldn’t help but notice that the little girl had taken off her little suede boots and tucked them behind her and was now swinging her little pink sock clad feet back and forth and back and forth.
I got a few steps past when I heard the little girl say, “I hope she didn’t see where I hid my boots. She might take them home,” and then her mama told her to shhhh and that I didn’t want her boots I was just being nice but the little girl kept talking.
“But her feet are too big for my boots. Did you see them? They’re REAL big,” and I guess it startled me a half second, but then I laughed a little and wanted so badly to turn around and assure the little girl with the tousled muss of curls that I wasn’t going to steal her boots but I feared I had scared her enough already.
The last two things I heard before I rounded the corner were the words “really big” and I couldn’t help but glance back just in time to see the mama, I assume, shushing the little girl again. “Be sweet,” she said. “The lady does not want your boots.” But I suspect she was looking at my feet to see if they really were ginormous like the little girl said.
I love children and the cute things they say. Little ones, that is. When they get to be pre-teens and teenagers it’s another story. Oh, I still love them, but I’d hardly call the things that come out of their mouths cute or precious. A 4-year-old can tell me I have big feet, but something about a 13-year-old declaring out loud that my feet are amazonian doesn’t have quite the same preciousness.
It was a good hour later when I walked out again into the hallway to go to lunch. The bench was empty of tousle-mussed cuteness and I found myself feeling a little relieved that I didn’t have to walk past the little girl again and have her judge my behemoth hobgoblin feet. I walked down the hallway and was about to turn down the stairs when I heard a little voice to my left.
“There’s that lady that wants my boots, Daddy. But her feet are real big,” and I looked over to see little tousle muss sitting in a man’s lap a few feet away with mama, I assume, next to them. I smiled in their direction, half-heartedly, I admit, because I was really beginning to get a complex. Then I started down the open stairs and took extra care not to let what I was beginning to think were my humongous troll hooves trip me up. I made it safely down.
Just to be safe I took the elevator back up. I didn’t want to run the risk of scaring the little girl again. And besides, my hobgoblin feet probably needed the break.
But I really did like those boots.
Contact columnist Mandy Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.