While waiting by the register for my sundae at Sweet Scoops, a small boy comes up next to me where the napkins are. He’s not quite tall enough to reach and I quietly catch the container just as it nearly flips off the narrow shelf.
“May I help you with a napkin?” I ask.
“One or two?”
“Just one, please.”
“By the looks of your face, you might need two.”
“No, one is fine, thank you.”
“One it is then.”
He scrubs the chocolate off his face with the small white square as he wanders back to his table outside, where he’s sitting with a woman whom I assume is his grandmother.
I get my sundae and sit at the inside table near the window. We watch each other through the glass, and the next thing I know, he leads her in to join me. I offer her a chair and he stands next us. We introduce ourselves. Turns out she’s his great-aunt, and they are there because he’d fallen off the bars at school and bonked his head. She picked him up, and being a great-aunt, knew that an ice cream cone always makes a sore head better. I am grateful I don’t have to fall off a jungle gym to have an ice cream.
I ask him where he goes to school and he says Montessori. I tell him my son Jon went there a long time ago, but he’s 45-years-old now.
Shocked, he says, “Wait! That’s not possible! You look like you’re 50!”
I laugh and tell him I also have a 14-year-old grandson that used to be his age.
He says, “What? That’s not possible either!”
His aunt asks if he’d like to tell me how old he is.
“I’m four,” he says.
“I’m amazed. I’d have guessed you were five, at least.”
We chat about his choice of schools for kindergarten next year—of which there are several—the pros and cons of them, that his parents couldn’t come for him today as they’re working, and that he has two grandpas and two grandmas.
Throughout all of this he works down to the final tip of his cone, pops it in his mouth, and says, “I’m done. May I have another napkin please?”
“Would you like me to get it for you?”
“One or two?” I ask.
He wipes his face clean and his aunt hands him a small cup of water because all this conversation makes him thirsty. They’re ready to take their leave, so he and I smile at one another and shake hands goodbye. I tell him I hope to run into him again. What I really want to do is give him a kiss on the cheek, but I don’t. As it’s our first date, I don’t want to seem too forward or embarrass him.
I also want to tell him that if he ever needed a third grandma, even if it was just for a chat and an ice cream cone, I’m available. I hope our paths cross again as I’ve fallen head over heels for this small, brown-haired boy. We have a lot more we could talk about, and I might share with him my love for him.
A local writer, irreverent humorist, and astute storyteller, Catherine Sevenau is currently posting her third book, “A Family Memoir, Through Any Given Door,” as a web serial at Sevenau.com. She also co-hosts Random Acts, a monthly open mic at Readers’ Books, Reach her at [email protected]