Jack wanted that bag of cookies.
His mom said,
“Jack, I told you, we need to eat our breakfast first.”
He wailed and I mean it was loud, using the full extent of his lung power,
“Noooooo I don’t wanna wait. It’s too hard!”
In that small cafe, it doesn’t take much wailing to fill the room.
Jack appeared to be four or five years old. His mother looked at the few of us gathered in the cafe early one morning last week and shrugged apologetically.
I stood at the counter, placing my coffee order. A young man waiting near me said,
“Poor little guy.”
I nodded and added,
“I agree with Jack. Waiting is too hard.”
The mother heard us and said,
“I shouldn’t have bought the cookies ’til we finished our eggs.”
But at this little cafe/bakery, decked out to resemble a French bistro, when you place your order, you pay for everything at once, so Jack knew that cellophane bag of treats was waiting. Who could blame him for focusing on the treat? Focusing on the treat is about as universal an emotion as I can think of.
All of a sudden it got quiet in there. Jack had stopped yelling long enough to say to his mom,
“I am serious!”
The man and I, waiting for our orders at the counter, both broke into laughter at that, which probably didn’t help.
Jack’s mom looked at us and smiled and over his now-renewed protests, she said,
“He’s having a bad day.”
The man said to me,
“I can relate.”
I walked past Jack, carrying my coffee and newspaper, and patted him on the head.
He hollered some more and then gave it up and ate his scrambled eggs and toast.
As Jack and his mom left, he asked her,
“Can I have a hug?”
She picked him up, and with his long growing-boy legs dangling, she carried him out, as he clutched that bag of meringues tightly. He gave me a smile as they left.
I’ve been thinking about Jack and his bad day ever since. I envy him. It would be nice if once in a while wailing out loud in public was considered acceptable behavior for adults. But since it’s not, at least we still have cookies.
Ó Anita Garner 2009