Friday, March 04, 2005

Here's one more example of why I must have sucker written all over me.

I took the girls to McDonald's for dinner so they could play on one of those slightly terrifying indoor hamster-tube playgrounds. We ate greasy food and then they disappeared. I get very paranoid in playground settings, even those enclosed by big panes of plexiglass. I sit next to the exit, keep a wary eye on any potential abductors, and freak out every time one of them leaves my line of sight for more than 5 seconds.

I picked up the sweater I was knitting and tried to reassure myself that just because I hadn't seen the children inside the giant hamster tubes for 5 whole seconds, that didn't mean they had been abducted.

Then a kid crawled under my table.

I think it was a girl, but her short hair and gender-ambiguous clothes made it hard to tell. She was probably about 6 or 7 – old enough that one really wouldn’t have expected her to be crawling under other people's tables.

I spent a few minutes being indignant at the girl(?)'s parents for not teaching her social boundaries, or (supposing she was retarded or something) for not keeping a better eye on her and making sure she didn't make an ass of herself and piss off other people.

The kid stared right up at me from under the table and watched me knit while I watched my children not be abducted.

Then I realized that kids who don't get attention from their parents seek it from total strangers. Perhaps this kid's parents were fuckwits and I was her only chance for some positive adult interaction.

I stared back at her. "You're under my table," I observed bluntly.

"Do you have any money left? Or is it all gone?"

"Nope," I said, leaning a little further toward the fuckwit parents excuse. "It's all gone."

"My grandpa doesn't have any money left. He tried his card but it didn't work, so we had to go home, but then I was hungry."

I scanned the tables around the play area for anyone who might have been called Grandpa, but didn't see anyone. Unless Grandpa happened to be uncommonly young and worldly. Or an overweight, middle-aged woman with a mullet.

"Hmm, that's too bad," I said. What the hell? Had someone just dropped this kid off at McDonald's hoping someone would feed her? Fuckwits!

Just then, Matilda came over and stuffed a few more fries in her mouth. "Hi, Mom," she said.

"Oh, hi," I said. "There's a kid under our table."

Matilda looked at me, then looked under the table at the kid. Then she almost wet her pants laughing.

"So why are you under my table?" I asked the kid.

"I was just seeing if you have any more money..."

Just five seconds longer and I would have bought the kid dinner, taken her home with me, and called Protective Services. But then, Grandpa returned from the restroom.

The little rodent scampered out from under the table and sat with great decorum at Grandpa's table, where she in fact had a half-eaten Happy Meal spread out before her. She grinned at me. I collected my children by loudly announcing that I would buy them apple pies for the drive home.

1 comment:

blue fish said...

Well... you can't be too hard on the parents. They've obviously spent a good bit of time teaching her some necessary real-life survival skills.

You know... like how to fund her future crack addiction.