You know what I love about living in an apartment building with a lift?
The possibility of indulging in a 10-second snippet of idle prattle with just about anyone anytime I put myself out there. It's like the analogue version of Chatroulette (although, preferably without the flashing of genitals).
These interludes are friendly (I'll go out on a limb and say most people in my building can at least feign happiness during elevator travel) and they involve non-committal exchanges of small talk that leaving me with the delusion I have had some good old fashion meaningful neighbourly contact.
My children in particular really get some enjoyment out of the lift exchanges. Enjoyment in that they say 'hi' or wave at our fellow lift passenger(s) then stand there beaming while readily expecting and accepting adoration and worship at the alter of Cute AND Polite.
However, this morning one such 10 second meeting altered our collective mood, which, up until that point, had been optimistic about the day ahead.
It wasn't my neighbour's fault. He was a guy in his early twenties, minding his own business listening to his iPod when my two-year old daughter's adorable attention-whoring coerced the earphones from his head. Waving was not on the menu as she had something big on her mind to share.
"I'm in the big room today!"
He smiled. Then looked at me quizzically.
"She's telling you she is moving from the nursery to the room with the bigger kids at her daycare for the first time today," I translated.
"Oh!" To give him his dues, Young Neighbour Dude tried to look interested as he searched for any kind response before settling for: "Really? Are you SCARED?"
I blinked. My son blinked. My daughter stared at him in new, wide-eyed horror and a look that roughly resembled, "Oh-em-gee! It never occurred to me to be scared but you're RIGHT. This is NEW. In fact, this is NEW AND MY MOTHER WON'T BE WITH ME! WHAT IS TO BECOME OF ME? THE HORROR THE HORROR WHAT A WORLD WHAT A WORLD." And so on and so forth.
At daycare, it took me about ten minutes to prize myself from my daughter's white-knuckled grip. Eventually I walked away from her vulnerable stare as she sucked on her blanky in the nursery room.
Might give the Big Room another go tomorrow. Although, we'll probably take the stairs to get there.
, by Natalie Green