I had stopped for a quick lunch by myself the other day, and she caught my eye right off the bat.
You couldn't help but be drawn to her, with her blonde hair and the arms of her glasses, the same bright shade of pink as the outfit she was wearing. She was sitting 2 booths ahead of me and I was watching her between the couple that had come in and sat down between us.
The couple, who sat with their backs to me, were young. I could tell they were newly in love by the way they chose to squeeze themselves into the same side of their narrow booth to be together, when it was obvious, one on each side would have been the better choice. At least, that would have been my choice, as I've always thought it was nicer to be able to look up into each others eyes to talk, rather than be squished together, with both of you staring off in the same direction. Squished is nice if you're watching a movie, cuddled up on the couch under a blanket. Not for lunch.
But the couple didn't really interest me. I was watching the girl, who was so full of life and energy that it was contagious. When without any warning, she suddenly got up onto her knees, turned around on the seat, put her chin in her hands, and her elbows on the top of the backrest and perched there, smiling at the young couple. I had to smile too.
That's something that's hard to get away with. Staring at complete strangers while they eat. But when that person, grinning at you over the back of the seat is 3 years old at best, how can you help but smile back?
I'm sure she wasn't over 3 years old, but it's been a long time since any of my kids were that small, so my judgement may be off a bit. When her blue, whatever-it-was toy, from her Happy Meal, went flying out of her hand onto the floor and she scurried after it, I noticed her shoes matched her pink outfit and glasses.
I recognized her parents. Not as in, I knew who they were, but rather as, I saw my wife and myself in them. Unlike the 3 little boys we took to McDonald's though, they had 3 girls. I remember you had to do everything in shifts back then. One stayed with the kids and found booster seats and high chairs, while the other went to order the food. You had to rotate, taking one at a time to the bathroom, while the other stayed and watched the rest. One would gather up the garbage and take it away, while the other packed up the kids. The little girl's parents looked weary.
I remember being weary.
But once in awhile, when a little girl gets up on her knees and smiles in your direction, over the back of her booth, while her parents try to get one of her little sisters to eat her apple slices, you forget about the weary, and think about the wonderful.
...........and wish it wasn't so long ago.