First Encounters

May 23, 2010
By vikingthered BRONZE, New York City, New York
vikingthered BRONZE, New York City, New York
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Blue eyes peer out from the mop of curly red hair. She is new. Behind a large, brown, leather ottoman. The new tenant. She sways and shifts her body to get a closer look at me. One of two, the younger. She doesn't dare come out and face me though. Not really two, only two if you subtract the full time staff. She stays, bashful and staring.

“C'mon Sawy'” the little girl answers to her mother's call almost immediately, but stops in the hall way to look back at me. Her eyes are curious and inquisitive as all children's are, at that age. But in these eyes there is a certain amount of seriousness, beyond the years of such a young thing. Only for a second does she continue to look, before she scampers off to find Robin.

Robin is the other tenant. Lovable, although somewhat of a flake. She is the mother of the three year old, who comes to see us daily. My mother is a terrible land lord, in that she cannot help but to make friends with those who owe her money and thus she cannot bear to take the said money. But robin is an exception to the rules. Not that my mother is not her friend, because her and my mother are quite good friends, but if my mother ever ignored the rent to be kind, or friendly Robin would bang down our door just to give it to us. It isn't that she liked to pay but its more that we didn't ask much and she had more than enough to spare.

All she ever does is stare at us. Watching and listening. She doesn't speak. She doesn't cry. She doesn't sing. Just stands and watches. Sawyer. That is the name of the adorable ginger living up stairs. Sawyer. And although I have not seen for myself it has been said that there is an equally adorable poodle up there named Tom. Tom & Sawyer. A quizzical naming arrangement if you ask me but it made sense to Robin and I'm not one to criticize.

I asked my mother that day. Why. Why does she watch us. Why doesn't she speak, because we all know that she can.

“She's two-and-a-half, Jackson,” she said drily. “Maybe Three.”. Unsatisfied, I turned to my father working in his small makeshift office.

“It's a delicate process, she's been here for 2 months. She's three. That's a hell of a long time,” he swiveled his chair back around to continued his work, “When you're three.” My hunger for knowledge only partially sated, I eased back in to the velvet arms of the womb chair, reading To Kill a Mocking Bird. Well, not really reading, because I could never read that book without falling asleep, and true to form I passed out within a few moments.



Granny was back. She was only here for a day or so but it was nice to see the irascible old b**** again. Today she sat in the womb chair. She'd been raving all day about the “baby”. The “Baby” had just come down with her dog, watched granny for a while and gone back up stairs. But she was more comfortable now. Even with granny. She had talked with Tom the whole time whilst rubbing against his soft curls. But she wouldn't talk to us. Not yet.

“Oooohh hoo,” when granny saw something adorable she cooed. She was getting old and she couldn't really put things into words any more. “Ah haah, hhoooh hooh” she was laughing. Not at anything tangible or obvious but just at the sheer winsomeness of the whimsical child. She was grinning now, wrinkles curved around her oddly adorable face.



The cookies were in the oven now and I began to really wonder who would eat them when they came out.

The first cookies that came down to us, happily coincided with the coming of speech. The little girl to whom I and my family had been talking to for almost 4 months was finally comfortable enough to tell her mother in our presence that she liked to draw and that the colors she was going to need were “Green and Red”. When you're three shapes don't really come naturally so the following ten pieces of art work were like an abstract christmas series.

Not much of the cookies were ever actually eaten. It was the idea that counted. It spared maybe 3-5 minutes of clumping dough with child in arm (easier said than done) followed by a relatively short 5-7 minutes of impatient three year old waiting for cookies and then an indiscriminate amount of minutes of trying to get the cookies from the plate into the belly of the baby without actually saying anything about cookies, because just on principle, if the cookies are meant to be eaten they are left conspicuously not so. This is a difficult process, one that today was elongated in the dough clumping portion because of an apparent need for “frinkles”.

“Frinkles?” She pointed at the formless chocolate-chipped blobs, as if that was all that need said. I threw a quizzical look back at the owner of the pipsqueaky voice sitting straddled on my side with my arm under her butt. She pointed again. “Frinkles?”

“What's that, Sawye'?” I glanced back down at her. Up until this point in my life I was unaware that a toddler could have the ability to make me feel stupid. She began to squirm and make noises that I'm sure given the chance would have been attributed to sex by one of my moronic friends.

“Put me down!” she hissed at me. “Put me down! I wanna-”

“Okay, okay, alright, okay, I got it.” Because of my irrational fear of tantrums the screaming child was promptly placed onto the floor. At which point she bounded to the largest drawer in the corner of the room and tugged it open. After the water fall of spice containers and small plastic jars filled with various topping-like items the toddler found what she needed.

In a slow and almost methodical voice, so that there would be no mistakes this time, she asked: “Can-we- put-frinkles-on-the-cookies?” She rattled around the large plastic container in which there were maybe four smaller containers. She popped open the top of the large one, reached in with her short childish fingers, and removed the pinkest most sparkly jar of “frinkles”. She dropped the rest of the contents on the floor and began to shake the small pink crystals around in side of their clear capped containment vessel. “Can we Pleeaaaassseee put frinkles on the cookies?” she squatted on the floor and looked up at me, doe-eyed.

“Sure.” Whatever. How bad could it be?

“I see you have some sprinkles there.” My Dad, a valuable asset in my babysitting situation, had come up behind me unnoticed. Sawyer shied away, reluctant to draw attention to herself. She blushed.


“Do you want to put the sprinkles on the cookies?”


“Yes – What?” The grin on the small child's face faded for a moment as she struggled with what my father was asking. Then she figured it out.

“Yes – please?” she asked meekly.

“Sure.” My dad seemed to have a way with children, and supposedly he and the girl had been on speaking terms for a quite some time.

He sidled over and placed his hands under her arm pits. Lifting her as if she was only the weight of a kitten. He slowly lowered her onto the large marble table in Robins apartment, by which point I had brought the cookie doughs and sprinkles to the table.

“Put the second batch back onto the stove,” he whispered at me. I did as he said.

I picked the sprinkles up, popped the top off and began to sprinkle them on to the cookies. Sawyer reached for the tube of sprinkles, moaning a little bit. Not able to entirely understand the meaning of this moan I continued to sprinkle. The moan began to become a full on scream. “NO, ME!” the little girl bellowed over and over in dismay.

“What?” I asked whilst the meaning of these exclamations still alluded me.

“Give her the sprinkles,” my dad responded. Oh. Of course. She's three.

The author's comments:
This is a memoir about earlier this year when my family owned a house and we were renting the bigger and nicer apartments to tenants, and keeping the one that was far worse for ourselves. Although this situation seems bad some good did come as we met the people who lived upstairs from us.

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