A four-year old and her mom gravitated to us on the playground today. We had gone to a brand-new park in the middle of they yuppiest and most fecund part of San Francisco: Noe Valley. Though we’re not known as a kid town, Noe Valley boasts strollers on every street, most of which are being pushed by nannies or really fit moms.
This particular mom and daughter, though, didn’t quite fit in. She had one of those a husky I-quit-smoking-only-to-have-a-kid brogues, home-styled hair (imagine!), and her clothes were out of fashion. (An educated guess only: I occasionally peruse this year’s Old Navy colors.)
Mom was unprepared for the day: she hadn’t brought any food and repeatedly tried to convince her daughter to go out for some. The girl kept hitting her mom, too, not especially hard, but in a proprietary way that would have sent some Noe moms running for their parenting manuals and child psychologists.
So this outlier mom at the Noe Valley playground naturally drifted in my direction, since I’m another outlier. I’m comfortable around yuppies, but really don’t resemble one, not being very “young” any more and never “upwardly-mobile” or “professional.” Dads aren’t too common over there, either.
Another oddity: the daughter wasn’t “nice.” By that I don’t mean that she was cruel, and she could take turns and all that. She simply wasn’t “trained” nice. “Shamu” nice. “Airport customer service counter” nice.
She was somewhat indifferent, as a matter of fact.
And so Boo loved her.
Involuntarily, this girl taught Boo how to drop from the monkey bars, how to bend in a plié, how to drag your feet on the slide to slow down. The older girl didn’t mind being a teacher — or maybe “mentor” is a better word. She was just having fun, and if my little two-year old was going to toddle around after her, that was no big deal.
Another day, another lesson learned: the less we try to be “nice” to others, the more our own authentic attractions shine through.