So we found the gallery in an odd part of town, on an unlikely street for a gallery both of which piqued my interest immediately. What's the story? Why here? Does she own the building already? Is this part of town one of those funky destination spots that cool urbanites just already know about?
My search was mostly for the owner so I was reading every name tag that came along. At the back of the store you could see a glimpse of sunlight. I headed towards that pulling Brooke with me while she tried to pull me towards the jewelry she wanted me to buy her. Her attention switched when she saw people with plates of food and like a blood hound she followed the trail.
Fine, I thought, I'll have a bite to eat with my daughter, that will be a nice moment. We sat on a concrete ledge that was part of the driveway we were in. I noticed a cute little girl somewhat younger than Brooke eyeballing us. Kids are attracted to kids like fireflies to light, I thought. The little girl sidled up to me and asked if she could play with my daughter. Of course, I said, but she has to eat first. The little girl assured me that she could wait. Patiently.
She sat down on the ledge next to us. Between bites I asked what her age was. Four, she said. We all smiled. Then with a coy voice she made a general announcement. "I'm the prettiest."
I chewed. I thought. I pondered the rudeness of her statement. Should I be offended? Sure, she was pretty. Was she prettier than my Brooke? Not in my world, not on my Mommy-planet. Should I inform her of her in-correctness? Should I let it pass completely as she was only four? How would the socially concious, politically correct mom of 2009 respond? I tried to form a comment in my mind something like-"I am sure, that to your mom, you are the prettiest" but kept wanting to add something else like- "when she's tossed back a few cocktails!" But instead I chewed and looked at Brooke to see if she had been devasted, if her self image and self esteem had teetered any. She was looking down at the ground so I wasn't sure but my distress was rising.
"YOU SHOULD...." she started to speak in that voice that children have when it's something important they need to share with you, the voice that starts on a high note at the beginning of each word and pulls out each syllable to match the importance of the message. I leaned in, anxious to be prepared to stop her if necessary or to mediate.
"YOU SHOULD....tell your mom to wash your shoes, THEY'RE DIRTY!" Brooke said to the little girl.
I sat back up and took another bite. "Well played, Brooke, well played!" I thought.