So then…they stop squealing and giggling long enough for me to ask, “Would you like to eat at home or go out to lunch?”
Chloe and her first-grade classmate Penny shout “Go out to lunch!”
I rattle off some choices and when I mention an Italian restaurant, Penny exclaims, “I LOVE Italian food! Let’s go there!”
I’m delighted she’s voiced an opinion. She’s a rather quiet girl and this is our first real playdate with her, so I’m pleased she’s excited about this restaurant option.
When we arrive and review the menus, I wonder if she’ll go for the lasagna — or spaghetti and meatballs — or something really adventurous like gnocchi.
Penny orders, “Noodles with no sauce and no butter.”
(Seriously? We came all this way to an Italian restaurant so you could order plain noodles that I could have made for you at home in 10 minutes for about 10 cents? Um, OK.)
I say this to myself, while outwardly I smile cheerfully.
After lunch, we walk around the fountains and visit the bookstore. Then I offer, “Do you guys want to go to the drugstore for ice cream or Baskin-Robbins?”
Chloe shrugs to indicate either one is fine by her, but Penny says, “Baskin-Robbins! They have 31 flavors!”
Yep, you guessed it. At Baskin-Robbins, Penny chooses Vanilla.
OK, fine. Perhaps she has a tender palate. She’s only 6. I force myself not to judge her lack of creativity.
So then, we enter Color Me Mine for our afternoon activity of painting ceramics. I tell the girls they can choose anything they want from all the ceramics on the shelves – and not to even look at the pricing. (‘Cause I’m a big spender like that.)
Chloe excitedly checks out the heart-shaped vases, cow-shaped cookie jars, kitten-shaped banks – and finally chooses a tall fairy princess with big beautiful wings that she can paint with millions of different colors.
Some of the choices at Color Me Mine
Penny chooses a flat square tile.
I am not kidding you.
You know those flat 4” x 4” tiles that are the most blah item you can buy in a ceramics place?
The flat tile that’s about 3 bucks — and everything else is $15 to $30 in the store?
Penny’s choice: one flat tile
I say, “Oh really, Penny, don’t worry about the price. You can have anything you want to paint. How about a jewelry case with flowers on it? Or this peace sign that’s also a bank? Or maybe this puppy in a wheelbarrow? Something 3-dimensional you can really get in there and paint it up?”
“Oh, no,” she says. “I just want this square tile.”
I say hopefully, “Well, that’s so small, honey, it won’t take you very long to paint it. Let me buy you a few of those tiles to paint.”
“No, just one, thank you.”
What a polite little bugger she is.
She joins Chloe at the paint station. Chloe squeezes six bold, brazen colors onto her palette – lime green, wild purple, hot pink, electric blue, bright orange, and berry red.
Penny’s hand hovers over the colors. If she picks white to color her flat square already-white tile, I swear I will call her a therapist immediately.
Instead, she chooses a pale blue and squeezes it into each of the six indentations of her palette.
And so while Chloe takes 40 minutes to painstakingly paint each and every crevice of her tall princess fairy, Penny is finished painting her square tile blue in about 60 seconds.
So she spends the rest of the time watching Chloe paint and chatting quietly and amiably.
And I need to be OK with that.
Of course, I want to tell her she lives in the most amazing country in the world – in the most spectacular age of all ages – with the widest variety of choices available at her fingertips – and that she should sample and experiment and try new things and take the plunge and GO WILD!
But then I remind myself that she also lives in the Land of the Free — where she is free to make the choices that feel right to her.
And so even if I am a “spicy shrimp pasta diablo with jamoca almond fudge ice cream type who would paint an awesome ceramic wicked witch with fiery cauldron” – she is a “plain noodles with vanilla ice cream type who would paint a flat square tile.”
And I need to be OK with that.
And who knows? She’s only 6. By the time she grows up, she might be a heavily-tattoo-ed, globe-trotting, raw-octopus-eating, flame-throwing performance artist who creates clothing out of beer bottle caps and shellfish.
And I would definitely be OK with that!
— Darcy Perdu
(Have you encountered such a child on your playdates? Share some funny or interesting playdate experiences in the Comments section! I would love to read them!)