Running through the high school parking lot half way through a 9-mile run Saturday morning, I saw this young girl bounding out of a minivan with her siblings. I’d guess her to be about 3 years old and excited to spend a few hours at the field house while her older brother wrestled. Obviously a happy child, she looked ready to make any situation a fun time.
She stood out from her siblings because, well, she was physically in front of them while their mom gathered things from the van. Plus she was just as cute as could be. She had on her favorite tennis shoes and dark tights covered by a little skirt. She wore a bright-colored sweatshirt and a sock hat covered her ears. Some wild hairs curled out around the hat and her face gleamed with bright-eyes and a big smile that raised her rounded cheeks.
The parking lot was full of activity, and yet she picked me to focus her attention. I turned my head to look at her briefly while I continued running through the lot. Seeing me, her eyes widened and her smile grew as she leaned forward. “How cute,” I thought.
The moment was a bit unusual for me as I have a reputation. My own family will attest to the fact that the sight of my face makes babies cry. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy children. I love their playfulness, imagination and honesty. But rarely does one pick me out to be their friend. So, I smiled back at the youngster as I turned away from the group. My smile remained as I ran toward the street.
I had really enjoyed the run to that point, and yet my spirits were lifted even higher by the brief encounter. I have a lot of time to think while I’m running and occasionally I get lost in those thoughts. “How did she pick me out and what had I done to make her smile so big?”
As I returned to the present, it struck me like a signpost I failed to see in my path. I looked down at my clothes and realized just how similar mine were to hers. No wonder she smiled. She wasn’t expecting to see an old man running around outside, dressed like a three-year old girl! Looking back I think she was very polite to not laugh out loud.