Elanor is small for her age. It is that physical smallness, which holds her exuberance and toughness that appeals to strangers, I think. But Elanor simply can not walk the two or so blocks from our home to the local mall without people stopping her to say hi, to chat with her, to comment on her.
Generally I could really care less. I’m proud that E is fearless (most of the time), and I enjoy that she is far more social than I. I think it’s good for her to see that strangers are friends we haven’t met yet. (She’ll eventually learn that not everyone is nice and that just because someone is an authority figure it doesn’t always mean they’re nice or trustworthy.) I also think that she needs to learn how to define her personal boundaries (at times she’ll respond to a greeting with “bye” and mean it, or she’ll tell a person “no” that she doesn’t want her hair touched…if they don’t respect it, I’ll back her and enforce her wishes, but generally people do respect what she’s requested).
Then there are moments like this past Friday.
We were walking, as we so often are, to Great World City. GWC is the mall that’s 2 blocks away, and houses, among other useful things, a grocery store. Elanor had been cooped up in the house most of the day, so we were letting her walk on the sidewalk with us (but had the stroller for the dual useful purposes of carrying groceries home int he basket and tossing a turtle into if she got tired or wouldn’t behave in the grocery store). It had rained earlier so there were puddles and the many metal plates (I think they open for access to stuff like pipes or power lines or something…they’re on every sidewalk every 5-10 feet or so…or an equivalent is) were slippery.
A group of several 20-somethings walked up behind us and E caught their attention when she ran over a metal plate and wiped out (they are seriously slippery-I’m careful and I’ve wiped out walking over them). As usual, she looked surprised, but not upset and just got right back up. As usual I had to tell them that she was fine and that they didn’t need to help her (and seriously folks…I’m not a negligent parent…if I think my kid needs help, I’ll actually offer it).
But two of the girls got a good look at her and started cooing over her. She smiled and said a few things and charmed them. Then she dashed ahead and promptly wiped out on the next plate. And was still fine.
One of the girls tried to tell her that she should be more cautious walking on them (I could have told her she wasting her breath) when E cut her off with a “byyyyyyyeeeeee,” letting her know that E was done with that silly notion of a conversation. The girls laughed and walked on a few steps ahead.
We ran into them again at the top of the stroller ramp, where they were chatting with friends. The girl who’d been schooled by Elanor greeted her, but all E saw was the girl’s water bottle.
Have I ever mentioned Elanor’s obsession with water and water bottles?
“Water!” E shrieks…it’s actually one of her best articulated words, so the girl understood what she was saying.
“That’s right!” she exlaimed.
“Water water water water water!” E chanted, vibrating…practically dancing at the sight of the water bottle.
The girl foolishly handed E her water bottle, cap on. E tried to drink from it, to everyone’s amusement as I mention she just loves water bottles.
This is when the girl gave up every hope of ever seeing that bottle again…she took it from E and opened it.
At which point E “drank” from it. E drinks from water bottles by deep throating them, as if the lip of the water bottle were a nipple on a baby bottle. There is always great backwash.
The girl laughed and suggested we keep it. I tried to pay for it, but she laughed me off.
Seriously, watch your water bottles around Elanor.