Wednesday, May 19th 2010
Love in the Cheap Seats

When I met Mike, he had a darling brown eyed little girl. (He still does.) And he suggested the three of us go to McDonald’s. And since we’d married right after we said, “hello, my name is so and so” we were probably already married by this point and he couldn’t do much about it when I turned up my nose at the idea of McDonald’s and said, “I’d rather not sit on plastic seats.”

Oh yes, I really did. Because I am a recovering SNOT. (And I’m also cold natured and I don’t want to make lame excuses, but that is a factor with plastic seats.)

Four kids and 14 years changes a lot. I’m still a recovering snot — it doesn’t change that. But today Seth-4yr and I went to McDonald’s. Because he wanted to. And we sat on plastic booth seats and it was totally worth it. We flicked a wadded up straw wrapper back and forth across the table and Seth-4yr came up with an intricate point system that I couldn’t keep straight. (If it hits the empty chocolate milk bottle BEFORE it goes past the napkin then you do or do NOT, i can’t remember, get a point for that. And on and on.)

Seth-4yr was experimenting with the phrase, “by the way.” He told me about the details of preschool, about what was happening in the play area to his right, about whatever came to mind, and it was all prefaced with a “by the way.”  Somewhere after the tenth “by the way,” two moms and two toddler girls came and sat in the booth behind me. The mothers were fairly stylish, with long, glossy straight hair that I will never have even on a good day. (And that’s okay.) They had that look on their faces that said they were desperate for adult conversation. It’s  a look I know well.

One little brown eyed girl threw a fit that is still echoing through my head. It was a good one.  Her mom pretty much ignored it and then the little girl stopped crying,  leaned over the top of the booth and started running her little cold hands through my hair. I turned and smiled at her and she smiled back.

She looked like Kim-16yr had at that age. And because things haven’t gone well with my own cute little brown eyed girl, and because I’m an emotional sap, it just got to me.  I don’t normally sign up for the random pawing, even by cute kids.

She was probably used to her mom’s silky straight hair and so her hands kept getting stuck in my tangled thick tumbleweed hair. And she’d laugh and pull them free, not always gently, and start over. Or take a french fry break. And then the cold baby hands would return, but with a little more salt and grease than before. If her mom noticed, she never let on. She was probably thrilled her child was quiet and she could talk to her friend.

Seth-4yr watched all of this while we played Straw Wrapper Soccer and finally decided he wasn’t okay with sharing. “By the way, I’m cold. Will you hold me?”

“I’d love to. It’s the seats. They make me cold, too.”

He came over and finished his lunch in my lap, eyeing my little stylist from time to time. And when the girl’s mom told her she could go play, Seth-4yr turned to me, smiled in the way that he does that makes all his dimples show at once – and he said, “by the way, I really really love you.”

It was a sweet, sappy, unexpected, and by the way, wonderful little lunch date. On plastic seats.

Life is good.


3 Comments on “Love in the Cheap Seats”

May 19th, 2010
9:45 pm

Love it! :)

May 20th, 2010
9:20 am

Now that’s the kind of good day that helps a person recover from a bad one. By the way, I TOTALLY love the dimpled, lap-sitting “really, really love you” kid.

May 20th, 2010
10:18 am

This was refreshing. I wish I could have read it by myself before the kids got up, but they were up at the crack of dawn this morning and my enjoyment of personal time was cut short.
“By the way”, I love the way you think to include the everday life bits that we all overlook–like your son’s ‘by the way’ craze, lol! That is so cute, but you could have just been annoyed by it instead of charmed by it and that’s what makes you such an awesome mom.
My two year old daughter got up yesterday and hopped into the living room with her bunny blanket on her head saying “rabbit. rabbit” each time she hopped. Sort of like a confused frog/bunny. But it was cute. I asked her if she was a bunny and she said “Actually, I’m a baby rabbit”. Speech impediment and all. That was the biggest sentence I’d heard her say ever! I about died.

I’m starved for adult conversation too. Can you tell?

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