One thing that has struck me so evidently is that kids have a very good memory; one shouldn’t take their little heads for granted. A few months ago, in February this year, I was coming from the grocery store just a few blocks from my house when my neighbour’s daughter came up to me. We became friends last year but one when I was teaching her and some other kids in our court how to skate; we’re close.
When she approached me I wasn’t sure what she wanted, but I could tell from her nervous look she wasn’t sure I would consent to whatever request she had. “How’re you?” I beamed, hoping it would ease her angst.
Managing a half smile, she replied, “I’m fine”. At first I thought she wanted to borrow my skates, even though they are atleast two sizes big; some older kids borrow them every once in a while, so that wouldn’t have been totally unexpected…but she has her own pair? I remembered… and while I was still in my head wondering what it was that made her look so nervous, she said, “Will you buy me smokies?”
That caught me so off-guard…I have bought her and the other kids from our court candy many times before, but she had never walked up to me like this; she happens to be one of those introverted kids who don’t talk much. I’ve always wondered why she doesn’t smile much yet she’s only eight; I can almost count the number of times I’ve seen her laugh; she’s always wearing a grim look. Sometimes I can’t help but feel so much is concealed behind it. Pain? Anger? I’m not sure which.
Regaining from my momentary shock, I smiled, “Sure, I will tomorrow. I’ve run out of change”. She smiled back…and I could tell she was genuinely pleased, the joy radiated in her eyes. She didn’t say anything else; she just walked down the steps, her hand trailing the banister.
As I walked into the house, there were many questions running through my head; “Why did she ask me? What would her mom say if she found out? She comes off to me as a grumpy lady and there’s the other little fact that parents are always so protective of their kids… anyway, I thought to myself, if she had mastered the courage to ask, there’s no way I was going to disappoint her.
I imagined she had seen the beef smokies when the school bus was dropping them off; adjacent to the grocery store, there’s a guy who barbeques them. I was almost certain that’s what had happened…and of course, her mom was still at work…
The next day I didn’t see her, I thought she had changed her mind…well, how wrong I was. The following evening I was startled by the doorbell when it rang. I hadn’t been expecting anyone, and somehow I had forgotten about my little friend.
I opened the door, and there she stood…in the company of another girl, who is also from our court. When I saw her, I unconsciously flushed her a guilty smile; I had forgotten all about it. “Hi…” But then I remembered the previous day I hadn’t see her. I sighed, relieved; I wasn’t to blame entirely and I don’t like breaking my promises.
“Hi”, she smiled back before adding, “You promised me!” It sounded innocent with a touch of accusatory”. But I understood…
“Yes I did”, I replied. “Wait here, let me go get the money”. I rushed back and a few minutes later she and her friend were on their way to buy some beef smokies, with their hands on each other’s’ shoulders. I couldn’t help feeling amused as I watched them…
Then the now obvious statement popped in my head, ‘kids have got a very good memory’. Sometimes people assume they’re too young to remember things, but truth is, their heads hold so much information… and when one promises them something, they will always come to collect; and even if they don’t, it won’t be because they forgot.