A precocious young lady, around five years of age, strode to the self checkout machine, lugging two boxes of chocolate, sugar coated cereal. I looked about for a parent but saw none.
“How are you today?” I enquired.
“Just fine,” she said primly. “How are you?”
“Fine, thank you. Are you going to buy those?” I asked.
“Oh yes,” she replied as she continued her march to the machine
“Do you know how to use the self checkout?”
“Of course,” she said brightly.
Many adults can’t but this child seemed so confident, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she really could. However, I thought I should slow her down a bit.
“Did you bring your money with you?”
“Umm,” she paused, and then said, “You know… I’m pretty sure I left my money at home.”
“Perhaps we should wait until the person who brought you can help you can pay…”
She was not to be dissuaded but then a woman of grandparently visage entered the scene.
“What are you doing here and where did you get that cereal!?” she demanded.
The young lady transformed into a whiny baby in an instant, complete with tears and angst.
“Aaaaahhhh, But I wanna buy this MYSELF!”
“We’re not ready to pay yet,” tired grandma said, “And we’re not buying that stuff anyway.”
“But a WAAANT it!” yelled the once prim lady
I walked away to let them work it out for themselves and I could hear the threatening cadence of the grandmother’s voice–something about taking her straight home without stopping for ice cream while the girl continued to protest vigorously.
Later, I encountered another young girl, again around five years old. This time I was manning the more conventional register when she came through the line with her parents. She carried a pink toy scepter that lit up on the end. Anyone could see it was special and understand why she clutched it so tightly.
“So… are you really a princess?” I asked.
She ignored my question, and earnestly explained, “I did not get this from the store. I brought it in with me. I’m not trying to steal it or anything.”
I nodded and told her I understood, but she went on to say again: “It’s already mine. I’m not taking it.”
“I understand. Thank you for telling me.”
She told me one more time that she wasn’t stealing it. Again, I nodded.
Her parents smiled as they rolled their eyes… I think they’d seen her caution and precision before. I told them that their child was quite impressive.
Actually, both children had their charms. I’ve no judgment against the first little girl, other than I found her entertaining. But just like adults I’ve known, one of them only looked mature while the other one really was mature.
I would be very happy to find out the second child actually is a princess because it’s clear she already has nobility within her.
Wouldn’t it be great if we had more adults who were that conscientious, precise, and communicative, rather than using a shiny veneer to hide their being selfish and whiny?
I’m sure these two children will grow up to be lovely versions of themselves. I hope we adults can grow up to do the same.