There, my daughter said it again. This time to the man in front of us at the grocery store. Never mind that he’s shuffling, talking to himself, smells kind of bad and is counting out crumpled dollar bills for the purchase of a bottle of wine, two bananas and a bag of hamburger meat. Maybe it's the bananas that caught her attention. Maybe she’s indicating to me she’ll grow up to be a world-class humanitarian. Whatever it is dear daughter, please do not include me in your infectious love of mankind. Once your catch their attention it’s up to me to catch their eye and smile. Mommy doesn't want to do that. Mommy wants to back away slowly.
Yes, once in a while it’s cute. I wish I had my camera when you flirted with Lenny Kravitz at Publix. I wish I had washed my hair and wasn’t wearing my shirt with the stain.
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It’s hard having a friendly daughter. An introvert like me wonders if perhaps they gave me the wrong baby. Who is this little girl that inserts herself unafraid into groups of kids both older and younger than she. Who is this little girl unafraid to beg for cookies from anyone who has them at the park. Who is this kid who blows kisses to dogs even the ones with the drool like Cujo and even remembers to say “Bye Museum” every time we leave lest we hurt the building's feelings by refusing to acknowledge it. Who is this kid that can remember people’s names when her mommy sure as heck can’t? Skye, Ben, June, that little girl that looks like June, she can remember them all. When I taught classes in advertising I needed everyone to wear a name tag for all 12 weeks. She can even recognize babies. Babies! I couldn't even tell which one was mine when looking through the hospital glass. She will even yell “Bye” when we’re leaving the park until she gets at least one response. How old does one have to be to run for mayor of this town?
And she makes eye contact. “Mommy” she says to me as she reaches up with her hands to grab my face and turn it when my attention is elsewhere and she wants to talk.
Penelope loves to talk. She calls more people on her toy cell phone than I do on my real one. She doesn’t even need a response to be happy to share her day. “Park,” “David,” (her cousin), “Rebecca, Sara,” (her other cousins), “cat,” “grammy” “parrots,” “whatareyoudoing, “I like ice cream” the conversation will go. And people like her back.
And I don’t discourage it at all. It’s all OK as long as she learns to never ever, ever go home with the people she says “Hi” to. Unless mommy says Hi too…and means it, following a background and fingerprint check.