My father met my mom because of me.
I was an almost three-year-old sitting on the front steps of the apartment building. I was dressed in full pink princess regalia. Pink big fluffy dress, pink socks with white lace, pink and black lace-up shoes, little pink gloves, a little shiny tiara, a small pink purse. My two ponytails were hanging down my back with pink barrettes on them.
The other kids were playing baseball in the street. They were running back and forth. Laughing, throwing, catching and hitting the ball back and forth. They were having fun.
This was not the first time my Ma dressed me like a little doll. I often sat on the step watching the other kids play. My mother was eighteen and took a lot of pride in keeping her little girl clean, full, and dressed like a little queen. I was her doll.
She taught me to sit quietly on the step once dressed. We didn’t have air conditioning in our apartment, so I sat outside to stay cool once I had my travel clothing on.
Whenever we arrived at our destination, I’d be the star attraction for family and friends. I was the only small child. There were no other children anywhere we went with my mother’s friends. I spent most of my time around adults reading my picture books and listening to their conversations.
Books, cookies, candy, and toys were available at these gatherings. My favorite was pop, sweet and cold, which was given to me in little cups. Strawberry and Orange Crush were my favorites.
So, I often sat on the step waiting for my mom.
A tall man with big brown eyes stopped at my step. He said “Hey, little girl why are you sitting there looking so pretty. Don’t you want to go play?”
I turned my head away from him and said “No. I’m going somewhere with my mommy. I have to sit on the step.”
He asked me, “Why?”
I said, “I can’t talk to you.”
He said, “Why?
I explained to him in detail why I should not talk to him. He was a stranger and I couldn’t talk to strangers. My mother and my grandmother lived in this building. I had to sit here because we would visit my mommy’s friends. I was smart and pretty and lots of people like smart and pretty little girls so I shouldn’t talk to him.
He agreed with me; we should stop talking as we continued to talk. He sat down on the step next to me. I heard the ice cream truck turning the corner and heading in our direction. The truck slowed down and stopped.
The man brought ice cream bars so we could eat ice cream as I continued to not talk to him. My ice cream was swathed in napkins, so I wouldn’t get ice cream on my pink dress or my pink and black shoes.
While he was continuing not to talk, he told me he moved in yesterday. My mom came out of the building. My mom was eighteen as was he. She was not happy.
My mom looked great. She was dressed in pink to match me: pink dress, pink shoes.
Ma asked him what he was doing. He laughed and told her he was not talking to the little princess and I was not talking to him. We were watching the other children play ball and eating ice cream.
She frowned at his smart-aleck response.
I helpfully added, “Don’t talk to him, Ma. He is a stranger.”
Ma looked in his eyes. His eyes were dark brown. She frowned, took my hand and we left.
The next time I was sitting on the steps waiting to leave, he came out of the building and sat next to me, again. He had Juicy Fruit gum. We proceeded to not talk about a lot of things. My mom came out and sat next to us, none of us talking. He gave us gum.
Eventually, I didn’t need to sit on the step for them to not talk. My mom dressed me in play clothes. She sat on the steps watching me play. I was allowed to play with the other children and get dirty.
Most of the time, he came out to sit on the step with my mother and watched me play. Sometimes, the ice cream truck came and he brought ice cream for the three of us.
After a while, we left the steps and went places together. Nice places, with food and drink. It was fun. This man became my dad within a year.
I was responsible for my parent’s meeting which means my five brothers and sisters owe me their lives. This remains a priceless debt they can never pay. They must love me no matter what for the rest of their lives.
Reach Toni Crowe at https://www.tonicrowewriter.com/