The little boy walking down the sidewalk tonight couldn't have been more than two or three, all pudgy and rosy and wobbly on his feet.
His right hand was held by an older woman's, while his left hand rested on his own sweet little belly, which was covered by a bright orange shirt that read I'm So Cool.
"Gamma?" the little boy said to her.
"Yes, Love?" she replied.
At that moment, I made eye contact with her, just as I came down my front porch steps, carrying a bag of trash to take to the alley.
I smiled at the woman. She smiled back.
"Who's her?" the little boy said, smiling up at me.
"Hi!" I said to him.
"Hi!" he said, right back. Uncanny was his imitation of my inflection.
I stopped. I smiled. And I waved to him.
He stopped. He kept smiling. And he waved right back at me.
Then, I turned to walk toward the alley.
His little smile was still shining in my heart.
As I passed the two maroon Adirondack chairs in my front yard -- which I've considered moving to the backyard since we never seem to sit in them -- I heard the little boy's voice call out.
"Sit," he said. "Sit."
Was he talking to me?
So I turned around.
"Sit?" the grandma asked him, amused. She looked at me, and shrugged.
And in that moment, it occurred to me that I'd already stopped smiling, without even knowing.
How funny and fleeting our interactions are, aren't they? Seconds ago, I'd just been smiling. Then, as soon as I'd walked away, my smile disappeared.
And so, I once again smiled at the grandmother, then nodded toward those chairs, signaling for the two of them to both sit down. She nodded back.
"Sit, please," the boy said. "Right here."
Then, with significant effort, he climbed up into one.
And once he was settled, with his little body forming a perfectly reclined "L" in his chair, he shielded his eyes and looked up at his grandmother, with absolute peace and utter silence.
I stood there, watching in wonder.
This beautiful little creature.
So unquestionably content.
"Sit," he said again to his smiling grandma, with little arms extended and teeny little fingers grabby-grabbing the air between them.
"Rest?!" she said, incredulous and giggling, hands planted firmly upon her hips.
"Rest," he said, palms up on the flat armrests, squinting toward her in the five 'o' clock sun.
And so, she threw up her hands, sat down, and rested.
# # #
After dropping my trash in the can in the alley, I walked back toward my house, expecting to see them.
But they were gone.
I'd only been gone for...what, forty-five seconds?
Ahh...toddlers, I thought. Always on the move. God bless that grandmother's heart. I'm sure she appreciated the fleeting moment of calm.
I walked up the steps to my front porch, thinking about getting dinner started, and about how happy it had made me to see that interaction.
A little weepy, even, thinking back to my own kids -- now teenagers -- when they were that tiny, that pudgy, that grabby-grabby.
It all goes by in such an instant, doesn't it? Such a miraculous, brilliant instant.
Then, I heard the little boy's voice again, this time calling out from across the street.
And from the top of my porch steps, I turned to see them, the little boy and his grandmother, this time seated in two of our neighbors' four Adirondack chairs, continuing with their resting maneuvers.
"These are green," the grandma said, one hand tickling his little leg.
"Green," the little boy repeated.
I smiled yet again, and just shook my head.
How beautiful life is, I thought, in these unexpected moments, these unorchestrated exchanges, connecting us to one another.
I reached inside my mailbox and pulled out the usual mix -- letters and flyers and bills and the rest -- then turned back to watch the boy and his grandma.
But they were already gone...
...surely headed toward another quiet spot...
...to take yet another tiny little rest.
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