This assignment was simple; write about a memory from your childhood. I’m still in my childhood technically, but I chose a memory that was a little fuzzy yet stuck with me. I could remember the emotion better than the actual actions that went on, so I had to ask my mother and grandmother for details. I got creative with the dialogue and action, this assignment allowed much more freedom than many other forms of writing. I enjoyed writing from my own perspective for once, I usually like to write about other people. It was fun to get into the head of my four year old self, and brought back a whole slough of other memories from when I was younger.
“I’m cute too!”
It was loud in the Whole Foods, and the aisles were narrow. I was hanging off the cart, trying to distract myself, making ugly faces at my baby sister sitting in the baby seat at the top. My mom and grandma were still talking, arguing about… chicken, I think?
“Mom, can we be done?”
“Mom, I have to pee.”
She kept looking at the shelf. Her eyes looked worn out. I wanted to go home. I pulled on my sister’s leg. She screamed.
I had gotten her attention, sort of. She was looking at my sister, who was being a big faker. I didn’t pull on her leg hard at all. Just wanted to see if she’d scream, and she did. I went back to trying to read the boxes on the shelf out loud, looking up hoping someone would listen and tell me how good my reading was. Nobody did, and I scowled and scuffed my feet on the linoleum floor as the cart inched along, one of the wheels making a squeaky noise.
I could see the doors that led outside as we waited in line. I wasn’t even getting a treat from the store, so now I really wanted to be done. I kept pulling on my mom’s shirt, and the most she looked at me was to swat my grubby hands away so she could load the groceries onto the conveyor belt. My grandma offered me a little more, patting my head absently as she made faces at my stupid baby sister. I scowled even more, lines creasing my little forehead.
“Mom, I want to go home. Mom, can I get a candy? Just a gummy bears? Mom, I peed on myself.”
This got her attention. She looked at me, tired face suddenly angry and worried, then relaxing again.
“No you didn’t. Stop bothering me.”
I angrily kicked the display shelf.
“Well, if that isn’t the cutest little girl I’ve ever seen!” a woman’s voice came from behind me. I turned, beaming, thrilled that someone, anyone was finally paying attention to me. But she was lookin over my head into the cart where my baby sister sat, drooling on herself like an idiot. Mom says idiot isn’t nice, but Sarah is one. Smart babies don’t drool on themselves.
The woman kept talking. “Oh look at her little face!” She made faces at Sarah, who just grinned back, babbling her dumb baby talk. I waited patiently for her to notice me, because then my mom would pay attention to me too.
I waited a long time. The woman even looked at me, then kept asking about how old the baby was, what her name was, and how simply adorable she was.
My face felt hot with shame. I just wanted someone to look at me. Now that the baby was here, they hardly did anymore. The woman eventually left, only giving me a few glances and saying nothing. She didn’t even smile at me when I smiled at her. My mom packed the groceries in bags, ready to leave. My eyes welled up with tears.
“I’m cute too!” I reminded them, my voice sounding strained and throat tight.
They finally looked at me. “What’s wrong, sweetie?” my mom asked, no longer absent-mindedly glancing at me, her eyes filled with concern.
The tears streamed down my hot face.
“I just wanted you to look at me, you only look at the baby now,” I choked out, wiping my runny nose with my hand. My mom looked pained. She lifted the baby out of the cart and grabbed the groceries, and both she and my grandma took my hands and we all walked into the parking lot.
“I’m sorry I didn’t notice you before, sweetheart. I think you’re very cute.”
I sniffed one last time, and got into the car, getting to go home at last