One Sunflower


on March 27, 2012

She stood in the middle of the grocery aisle conducting traffic.  One hand up to motion stop, the other hand scooping air beckoning some unseen traveler.  I grinned at her as I approached.  She put her hand down acknowledging that I could pass.  I guessed she was about 4 years old, adorable, with blond frizzy hair, tutu skirt over sweat pants, and pink rubber boots.  Her mom was browsing the cheese display and an older sister stood closer to the cart.  “Come on, Allie, time to move on.”  Her mother moved the cart forward and Allie followed with a little skip.

I passed by the small family a few more times on my trek through the store and ended up behind them at the register.  Allie, as I now knew her name to be, looked at me as I pulled up behind them.  “It’s our turn, not yours.”

“That’s right,” I replied.  “It’s your turn to buy groceries.  My turn will come when you are done.”  Allie stood defensively by the counter.  I decided to wait a bit before unloading my cart.  Then her eyes caught sight of the candy shelves next to her.  She began to sort the tic tacs by color, carefully pulling the white away from the blue and reloading the boxes all with one color.  Her mom glanced down now and then but continued conversing with the checker.

When the groceries had been loaded and paid for, the mom pushed her cart to the door and called again to Allie who turned to me, waved and twirled and moved again into the caboose position behind her mom.

Thank you, Allie’s mom, for allowing her bits of autonomy in a world where 4 year olds aren’t in control of much. Little experiences of power and choice go a long way.


10 responses to “portrait

  1. Juliann says:

    Grocery shopping with young children can be a challenge and it is nice to see a time when parents can let go just a bit

  2. Tam says:

    One lucky little girl.

  3. Tara says:

    I like the way this little grocery store experience unfolded…the way you got a sense of this little personality (well, she seems like a big personality, actually!) in the course of a sliver of a day.

  4. capewriter says:

    I love the way you observed Allie in blips. I also love the way you allowed Allie’s personality to shine through in your description of her actions and her dress. Priceless. Sometimes it is easier to go with the flow; every parent knows that!! Cute slice! b

  5. Jama says:

    Precious description of your delight. Thank you.

  6. Wow…you capture the sensory details and explode the moment…this could be a model for a mini-lesson! I am right there in the store with you.

  7. djts says:

    I loved your description of the little girl and the shopping experience. Well written. I had great images from it. I guess I’m getting older, though. I’m not as comfortable with her interactions with adults. However, her outfit was priceless. It reminded me of my own daughter at that age.

    • onesunflower says:

      I felt her interactions were of a little girl engaging playfully with the world she was encountering. She was quite controlled and respectful considering her young age. She was pretending to be a traffic cop but she followed her mom when she was called. She engaged me in a conversation that wasn’t rude – just questioning. Her play with the Tic Tacs was quite careful and orderly – and again, she followed her mom when beckoned, leaving the candy shelf clean.

      • djts says:

        Yes, I was hoping that I would interpret the interactions that way, too! It is nice to see that then! So many times around here, the scene is different, so I think I put another little person in her shoes! The level of maturity of child and parent was what I was having trouble picturing. It’s a case of environmental bias, I think! I apologize to that little girl! And I am encouraged.

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