Yesterday we took our two year old to the local Chik-Fil-A so she could climb on the play equipment as a post-nap treat. Perhaps I should have taken a nap, too. All of us have had a cold, cough, or variant of the creeping crud on and off for two weeks now. Even though I wasn't feeling very sick, I haven't been getting enough sleep as Ally's coughing keeps me awake. I tend to be a light sleeper and jolt awake when I hear Ally coughing in the middle of the night. Lately I've been getting up 4-6 times each night to check on her. Although I'm dead certain that she's coughing hard enough to make herself throw up, the coughing doesn't seem to bother Ally one bit as most of the time she doesn't even wake up as I replace her covers. Regardless, the interrupted sleep is starting to wear on me and tends to make me really, REALLY cranky.
So there we were, sitting in the playground area watching Ally climb in, up, over, through, and down the play equipment. I could have laid down on the bench and taken a nap, but Ally wanted to make sure we were watching her every moment. "MOMMY! DADDY!" she yelled at each observation bubble and tunnel opening, just to make sure we hadn't moved since she last called for us thirty seconds ago. Then she'd move four feet farther into a tunnel and yell again at the next window. We're working on what's an appropriate "inside" voice, but small children don't come with a volume control. I'm pretty sure that's why the play area is in an area separated from the dining room by glass walls and doors.
The play area was a pretty popular place yesterday, with three or four other children monkeying over the equipment. One girl was about 8 years old with long wavy blonde hair and wearing a pink and brown knit dress with flowers, polka dots, and stripes. Clearly she was the queen bee of the playground, directing the other children around, learning the names of the other kids, offering to go get any stragglers up at the top, and asking the parents if she could play with their kids' toys if the kids themselves didn't let her. I didn't care for her bossy nature and blankly ignored her as much as I could, even though she tried to engage me by telling me that those shoes in the cubby were hers and not to let Ally mess with them, and could I please move over so she could sit on the bench with me? Her father was sitting in the restaurant and appeared to be watching her, but obviously wasn't within hearing distance of his child.
A few minutes later the girl climbed up into the play structure, turned around, and told me that I looked pretty. Her comment didn't even register with me the first time, so she made a point of telling me again. Startled, I told her thank you, but didn't say anything else to her. Soon afterwards her father came into the play area to collect his daughter and they left.
Little girl, I'm sorry that I behaved the way I did. I haven't been getting enough sleep and was in a less than stellar mood, but I still could have been more polite to you. I should have asked you your name as you clearly wanted to interact with other people yesterday. I saw a woman with a young baby sitting at the table with you and your father earlier. You probably have a young sister now and are trying to adjust to the new addition in the family. You're also approaching the edge of the cliff that drops off scarily into puberty, and you may be bewildered by the chasm ahead of you. I should have admired your self-confidence instead of dismissing it so lightly as being bossy. I could have at least told you to have a good afternoon as you left, but what bothers me most is that I never even thought of telling you that you are pretty, too.