Somewhere, impeachment hearings were gearing up. The heat of playoff baseball was beginning to rise. Just above me, colleagues of mine were unwinding, talking shop and plans for the weekend. I was sitting on the floor next to a two year old, and everything was right with the world.
It has been some time since I was fully responsible for the attention to and from a toddler, and I was determined not to disappoint. Or be disappointed.
Our after work happy hour landed us at a busy Friday afternoon spot where a group of us teacher types agreed to shake off the dust of the week and unwind before the next week appeared with all its potential for drama and intrigue. The mother of the toddler in question had been working hard all week, and I felt she most certainly could use some time without handling children, even her own. Add to that this woman had only recently announced being pregnant with twins and you might understand why I felt it was the right thing to give her a few moments of adult conversation while someone else ranched her current baby.
And I like kids.
I like the way they entertain themselves, and I like to remind myself of just how relaxing it can be to perform the endless repetitions of going from the steps to the door, to the steps to the door. Back and forth. Navigating space on newly sturdy legs and clomping feet is still an adventure. Add to that equation the faux playground of the hand rails and stool legs that towered above here and there was a seemingly endless loop of activity.
And each stop brought that smile, and look for approval. She was doing amazing things, and she wanted someone to notice. I was happy to oblige. On a couple of occasions, she rounded a corner a little too fast and slid onto her bottom. Knowing that she was on her own with only this relative stranger to watch her, there was no pause for grief or tears. She popped back up and was on her way again.
Eventually, she made her way to the front door of the tavern, and looked up to me. Should we go outside? Why not? We toddled down to the end of the block, greeting anyone and everyone with a perky "Hi!" to make sure she was noticed somewhere just below most adult sight lines. When we turned around to head back to the place where mom was waiting, she looked at me. "Up!" So I did as I was told and picked her up, but before we made our grand return, she wanted me to put her back down. I opened the door and she stepped inside. Mission accomplished.
And then we did it three more times.