Strangers With Candy
Emmet is cute. Not just in a baby face kind of way, he’s got that going for him too, he’s also learned when to smile and when to pout to get what he wants. This works exceptionally well on older women. By older I mean anyone old enough to have grandchildren. Although he is also a shameless flirt with younger women. Apparently a lot of these women here carry snacks in their purse…..to give away. At least once a week E is the recipient of someone’s handbag goodies.
Just today he scored two separate times, with two separate methods. First in line for the playground at Westgate Mall. Yes there is a line to get into the playground. Its school break, the playground is covered, and its been raining for 3 days (Finally!). So they can only let so many people in at once. So there we are in line, there are three families in front of us. The family directly in front of us is a mom, two girls probably five and eight, and grandma. He starts by playing peek a boo with the girls and smiling at the ladies. Then he turns to face me with his back to them and while talking to me nonchalantly leans up against grandma’s leg. When she reaches down and pats his head, he smiles up at her like he didn’t even know he was doing it. BAM!! Grapes that her and the girls are eating now become grapes Emmet is eating too.
Fast forward to a few hours later. Our trip out for the day is done, lunch has been eaten and we are on our way home because a nap is needed post haste. My backpack is full, there is one of those giant IKEA blue bags full of groceries in one hand. We exit the station and have to climb the stairs to the elevated walkway to get back home. At the foot of the stairs I’m given a look of sheer exhaustion and patheticness and the request “Daddy can you pick me up?”. I would, but there is no way I can carry all our stuff and E. If he had thrown a fit, screamed and cried, it would have been understandable but ineffective. He gave a big sigh and with small sobs started climbing the steps. Enter victim number two of the toddler charm spectrum. A fifty-ish woman coming down the stairs stops and talks to him. “What’s wrong (Indian word I;m assuming means honey, little one, cutie pie, or something similar)?”. To which the answer is a heart wrenching “I’m sad because daddy can’t carry me too”. Thanks kid now I’m worst daddy ever international award. She just smiled and reached into that mommy miracle bag and produced a little cake and fruit roll. While placing it in his hand she glances up at me to make sure its OK. Yeah, like I’m going to say no now that his tiny fingers are wrapped around it. Instantly the sobbing is gone a bright smile and “Thank You!…Look Daddy!!” .
Milk it while you can kid, at some point you stop being so endearing…right? But it works for him. He’s pulled fruit at the park, Mo-chi in China Town, and M&M’s at the bus station. I guess what’s truly odd is I’m alright with it. At home I would never let him take food from a stranger. Certainly not unsealed food like fresh fruits. I wonder if that says something about me or my home? Am I so conditioned to not trust people back home by the daily news and cultural memory? We all remember the tales of spiked apples at Halloween. No one we ever knew had it happen but we all knew the story. But here people are much friendlier, open and nicer to strangers. The crime rate is almost non existent, and mainly confined to young people and foreigners, which makes me very trusting.
While I ponder these questions E will be content to munch his snacks, whether they come from me or Nainai on the train.