I was in a bleak mood when I arrived at a fast food joint to have a late lunch. I’d been down all day and I didn’t see much chance of the dark cloud lifting — but I wasn’t counting on Allie and Ella.
The restaurant had a “bouncy house” out front for children today. Cousins Allie and Ella are granddaughters of one of the managers here, so they had come to jump around for awhile. As I arrived, I stopped to talk with their grandmother, who was watching them play. I’d met 7-year-old Allie a couple of times before, but 4-year-old Ella was new to me.
Ella wasn’t a stranger long. I had been watching them for mere seconds when she announced to me that she’s crazy and she loves puppies. After I showed her pictures of Lucy, she acted as though we had been friends for life.
Then they were jumping in the bouncy house for me, each one trying to do stunts to out-do the other — each one wanting to have my attention. And as I watched and talked with them and then laughed with these little girls, I couldn’t help but notice that my dark mood was brightening.
When we made pictures of the girls, Allie would pose sweetly and Ella would make goofy faces. Their grandmother told me their personalities were just the opposite of the personalities of their fathers, who are both the grandmother’s sons. She said Allie’s dad is a funny guy but his daughter, Allie, is serious, whereas Ella’s dad is serious and she’s a clown.
Within minutes, though, they followed me inside and ended up sitting with me as they waited for their grandmother to get ice cream for them.
The smallest things can be profound for children. Talking with them can always remind me of what that felt like when I was their age.
Allie had to tell me in detail — twice — about how Ella had messed up her room at home today and how she had cleaned it up. Ella seemed to find this funny — and I suspect it’s going to happen again and again.
Ella told me about her birthday coming up in December. She proudly held up five fingers to show me how old she’s going to be then.
We talked about favorite ice cream flavors — cookies ‘n’ cream for Allie, moose tracks for Ella — while people at nearby tables looked at us more and more, because the girls didn’t really know how to talk quietly.
Some people watched up playing around and smiled. Others looked a little annoyed at the noise. (Ella has an impressive shriek at times.)
Ella told me about her cat and then she looked at pictures of my cats. She got so excited at times that it was hard for me to understand, so her grandmother periodically had to “translate.”
And then it was time for them to go. Allie brightly told me bye and Ella told me she loves me. And then they went out the door like a couple of noisy tornadoes.
Now that they’re gone, I still feel bleak about the same issue that was weighing on my mind earlier, but the burden isn’t as great as it was. As so many children and animals have been for me over the years, Allie and Ella were cures for the worst of my blues.
There’s something amazing — something pure and innocent and sweet — about children. They make me happy. I’m grateful to have run into these two little balls of energy this afternoon. They made my afternoon a little less dark — and I appreciate them for that, even though they would never understand it.