, , , , | Friendly | November 1, 2020

It’s the day after Hallowe’en. I’m pushing my baby in her stroller down the wheelchair ramp to the train station’s entrance when the door opens. Out comes a woman with a two- or three-year-old child in a Spiderman costume.

The woman takes a step to the side, enough to clear the route through, and gets out her phone. Mini-Spiderman looks around, spots the stroller coming down, crams himself tight against the wall, and then starts vigorously waving the woman away.


The woman looks at him, then up the ramp at the baby and me, and then smiles and steps even farther to the side.

Me: “Thank you, Spiderman!”

Mini-Spiderman: *Cheerfully* “No, actually, I’m Batman.”

I guess even Batman gets to dress up for Hallowe’en!

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You’ll Understand When You’re Older

, , , , | Related | October 28, 2020

I have five younger sisters, two of whom are in college and living away from home and three of whom are in upper elementary school, ages eight, nine, and ten. While video chatting with my parents and youngest sister one day, I mention that I am so happy my baby took a long nap that day, because it means I got one, too. Cue this question from the eight-year-old.

Sister: “Why are babies and grown-ups so obsessed with naps?”

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She Shuri Knows What She’s Talking About

, , , , , , | Right | October 9, 2020

I am six feet tall in flats, and I’m also a very deep-skinned black woman. I’m used to people looking twice at me. I’m also used to the area I live in being… not very friendly. I’ve been stopped in my own driveway by the police, asking what I was doing in my own yard. I’ve learned for the most part to let it roll off my back, but it means I’m in a constant state of readiness.

I’m in line at the shop with a basket full of things, and the young woman in front of me has the most GORGEOUS baby propped up on her shoulder who is staring at me and grinning. I LOVE children, so I’m pulling funny faces and smiling at the tiny one, trying to ignore the fact that the four- or five-year-old girl with her is staring at me with her mouth open. The mother looks behind her and sees that I am playing with the baby and smiles at me, seeming rather friendly. She glances down and sees her daughter staring.

Woman: “[Daughter], don’t stare at people; it’s rude!”

The little girl closes her mouth and looks at the floor, mumbling something. I crouch down so I can hear her better.

Me: “Did you ask me something, sweetheart?”

Little Girl: *Suddenly adorably shy* “I was just wondering if maybe you’re from Wakanda. You look like Shuri.” 

Of all the things small kids have said to me in stores, that was definitely the cutest. I do, in fact, have long braids, and I even had a Black Panther T-shirt on. Naturally, I joined her in a Wakanda salute. Wakanda forever!

Silence, Oppressor!

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On Reflection, Best Not To Ask…, Part 2

, , , , , , | Right | October 9, 2020

I am the manager of a women’s clothing store. We have large mirrors throughout the store and in each dressing room.

A woman and her six-year-old son come into the store. While mom shops, the little boy gets bored, wanders a little, though not far from mom, and discovers the triple mirrors. He then proceeds to play with the mirrors and gets his handprints on them.

I’m not concerned because the mirrors have to be cleaned top to bottom every night.

Me: *Jokingly* “If you keep doing that, I’m going to give you the glass cleaner and make you clean those.”

His face just lights up.

Boy: “Really? Can I?”

Mother: “He loves cleaning. You should let him clean them.”

He looks so excited, I ask the mother if she is serious.

Mother: “Absolutely!”

I give the boy the paper towels and the glass cleaner, and he just goes to town. He not only cleans the mirror he’s touched, but he starts on all the other mirrors in the store, too. His mother and I are watching him while she continues to shop. I turn away to find something for her when she starts laughing. I look over, and he is climbing under the dressing room doors — they are kept locked — so he can clean those mirrors, too. He is having so much fun that his mother and I can’t help but laugh and enjoy his excitement.

A few weeks later, the boy and his mother return with his younger brother. The older boy comes right up to the counter with a hopeful expression on his face.

Boy: “Can I clean the mirrors again? My brother wants to help.”

I looked at their mother, who nodded, so I gave them the cleaner and the paper towels and off they went. The older boy was telling his younger brother how to clean the mirrors “just right.” Yes, they went under the dressing room doors, too, because that was more fun than having me unlock the doors for them.

I left that job soon after, so I don’t know if they ever came back in, but that young boy is one of my best memories from that job and still brings a smile to my face when I think about him and his mother who was smart enough to indulge his joy of cleaning.

On Reflection, Best Not To Ask…

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Typical Men Problems

, , , , , | Right | October 2, 2020

A regular and her five-year-old daughter walk in. The mother explains to me that her daughter wants a book to give to her brother, who is nineteen. The daughter walks up to me.

Daughter: “I want a book about men.”

Me: *Utterly perplexed* “I’m sorry?”

Daughter: *Insistently* “I want a book about men!”

Mother: “Do you mean you want a book with men in it?”

The daughter can’t figure out what to say next, so she just looks at me expectantly. The mother and I are completely confused. We try to figure out what the daughter is saying, and the girl only gets more frustrated that we don’t understand.

Mother: “Wait, do you mean you want a book with a picture of a man on the cover?”

Daughter: *Beaming* “Yeah! A book about men!”

I am pointing at the display rack for books on sale, many of which have men on the cover.

Me: “Why don’t you try looking over there?”

Daughter: “That’s it!”

She ran off. After she and her daughter picked out a book — a biography about a survivor on the Titanic — the mother explained to me that her son had a bookshelf full of biographies, many of which had their subjects on the cover.

At one point, her daughter must have noticed the pattern on her brother’s bookshelf! A few weeks later, the regular returned and mentioned to me that her son enjoyed the gift, though it was the last thing he had been expecting.

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