It’s a good thing Jellybean is cute.
Take for example our recent pilgrimage to the bookstore. My Lovely Wife was going to be working late and the thought of having to watch Grease for the 22nd day straight made my eyes bleed, so I steered the family SUV toward jellybean’s daycare away from daycare.
For the record, I’m not one of those parents who let’s their child run wild in the store. Sure we make the occasional mess but given Jellybean’s fledgling OCD, it’s always neatly stacked. Given that I’m usually makin’ it rain like Lil’ Wayne, (that’s rapper slang for spending stupid amounts of money), I think we’ve earned the right to play before we pay.
Jellybean was in rare form – giggling to herself by filling in the words to Grease classics with her favorite word. “Stranded at the drive-in, branded a POOP.” Or my personal favorite, “Hopelessly Devoted to … POOP.” You get the idea.
This was after, with a total straight face you told me about the Veggie Tales reenactment of the week’s Bible verse. “Daddy, did you ever hear the story of Shadrak, Meeschap and The Billy Goat? We watched it at school … but I never did see that Billy Goat. Where did the Billy Goat go?”
I had no answer and didn’t have the heart to correct her.
Back in the book area, chaos reigned. There were only two other kids there, but they were running around like Gremlins after midnight – jumping back and forth on the stage, fighting over a Barbie necklace and generally running amok. It was one girl, who, just between you and me, looked kinda mean. Sure she was only five, but already had the eyes of the puma. You could tell she could sense weakness in the herd and wouldn’t hesitate to pounce. Her little brother, who was probably about Jellybean’s age, was a typical, goofy boy hell-bent on destruction.
Both were Hispanic … yes it’s relevant. And they were taking full advantage of Mom being preoccupied with the baby.
Jellybean stood to the side – at first in fear and shyness but later in total awe, especially when the boy made a “train” out of the wooden benches and started running along the ledge at literal break-neck speed. With a little prodding and a nod, Jellybean joined in on their reindeer games.
Evel Knievel she ain’t, but Jellybean held her own and didn’t fall once. Still, she stayed mostly out of the way and hardly got noticed … until it was time for her newfound friends to leave. They ignored Mom’s calls the first four times, until, losing patience, she shouted across the shelf of stuffed Winnie the Poohs, “Angelo … vamanos!”
Jellybean’s eyes lit up like Santa Claus had just come around the corner. It took about eight seconds for her mind to process what and where her ears had just heard. Then she shouted back, “Oooh! Do you know Dora? That’s what Dora says. Do you know Dora?”
Fortunately, Mom was busy wrangling up her own kids and just grinned back happily deaf to Jellybean’s vaguely, if accidentally, offensive comment. We waited long enough for them to clear the parking lot, as she was still asking me about Dora and if I thought the woman was personal friends with her favorite cartoon character, before we got the heck out of there.
Like I said, good thing she’s cute. Ugly kids can’t get away with stuff like that.
Brett Buckner is an award-winning freelance newspaper/magazine writer who was raised in Albany.