The Things I Think About After Seemingly Harmless Interactions


Funny, the little things you remember.

I remember how adults, absolute strangers, used to smile at me when I was a kid. This was long before I realized that lots of adults do that with practically every little kid they see. I would take these interactions — whether it was a direct, emphatic smile & wave, or a more distant, observant smile — as a sign that they knew something I didn’t. And the only logical conclusion my five-year-old mind could come up with was that everyone else in the world knew that I was a princess: that I belonged in a castle and that I had been kidnapped or intentionally hidden or left behind, like in so many fairy tales. And it was only a matter of time until the king and queen — my *real* parents — came to claim me again.

Now I’m an adult, doing that exact same thing, smiling at kids and emphatically saying, “Hi!”, blatantly snubbing the “stranger danger” concept right in its face. And it makes me wonder if any of those kids rationalize these interactions in the same way. That I know something they don’t. That I know that they’re secretly princes or princesses.

And it makes me want to say to them, “Yes, I do. I know something you don’t. And that’s that you already have the keys to the kingdom. You don’t need to wait until the king brings you back. You have a sense of wonder and magic about the world that could slay any dragon. The trick is in not letting the world take that way. The world is limitless; don’t let the world make you believe otherwise.”

An alternative title for this post was: “Reach for the stars, kid!  And also tell your mom to quite side-eyeing me.”

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