Cuteness currency

Oh, what adorableness will buy these days.

After we dropped off Peanut at kindergarten, Butter and I wandered the streets of our delightful town. About half a block from the school, a woman was leaning toward a car and talking and laughing with someone inside. She walked away laughing heartily. Presumably, someone she knew and liked was inside the car. As we got close, Butter walked right over to the car window and peered in.

A man looked up from his phone and smiled. “Why, hi there! I’m Jeff. Who are you?”

I answered for the almost-two-year-old and smiled. Jeff pretended to have a conversation with Butter for a few lines, asking him about the weather and his day. And Butter waved and said, “bye bye.” Then, just as the woman did, he walked away from the window laughing. A big, hearty, fake laugh. I waved to Jeff, beaming because he was so tolerant of a toddler’s curiosity–behavior that Jeff would not have enjoyed from someone older.

Later, we walked past a florist’s cart. Butter stopped to look at the flowers. The florist, who always watches him as we walk by, swooped over with a rose. “This is for you,” she bowed to my tiny son. He smelled it. It was a gorgeous, thickly petaled red rose, the kind where the petals’ backsides are meaty and creased, and their faces are glowing velvet. I’m guessing the stem had broken and the florist kept it despite its obvious unsaleability.

Butter sat down with his flower, right near her cart, and ripped every single petal from the flower’s head. He studied the remaining stem, stamina, and carpels. He tossed these aside, gathered the petals into his empty water cup, and left his generous friend without a second glance. I offered her a thank you and an explanation that Butterbean likes rose petals in his bath, but she didn’t care what I had to say. She had eyes only for him, forgiving him instantly for behavior that would seem horrifying out of a school-age child.

Both of these incidents had me thinking, “you sure get away with a lot because you’re cute.” Humans, in general, are willing to cut small people some serious slack on the whole Social Expectations thing. When Butter lies down in people’s driveways to feel gravel on his face (swear to Penelope it’s one of his favorite things to do), nobody calls the cops. When he twirls around parking meters and signposts, people smile rather than shying away. His behavior in and adult would portend serious mental issues.

But when my toddler screams bloody murder because he can’t figure out how to open a bag, passersby just smile at me, knowing full well I’m doing my best and Butter is, too. Kind of makes up for all the difficult things about being a toddler, doesn’t it, Butterbug?

They treat him, in short, like a guest to our planet. And their largesse makes me reciprocate to other adults, because I would have much more fun on our planet if we all treated each other like guests.

7 thoughts on “Cuteness currency

  1. Hear, hear! Launch Project Guest! I will sign up. (And of course Butter is wowing passerbys…he is truly AdOrAbLe.)

  2. Wow, what town do you live in? I’d like to be there! My suburban sprawl has no places for roaming with people and florists and such.

  3. @Ink I have launched Project Guest. No need to sign up…just “This Is Water” everyone you meet.

    @MadWoman my first was pretty compelling until age 3. My second seems to be tending that direction. Maybe girls just hit their…um…milestones…earlier? They’re both keepers. I spend at least 45 minutes of each hour marveling at their awesomeness. 15 minutes per hour of fantasizing about a different life isn’t too much, right?

    @mw We’re in Berkeley. Urban enough, suburban enough, awesome food, weather, and hikes with terrible cost of living and hit or miss people. I love walking from amazing Cheese Rolls to amazing climbing rocks to amazing vistas to quiet, architectural marvels all in the same day. When we’re moving more than 100m/hr, that is.

  4. Beautiful post. Well said. I love the imagery/ Those cute little bundles of joy just charm the wits from strangers and friends and family. You’re right. We should cut people some slack. It’s a tough world out there already.

  5. Fae they are pretty cute. It’s a good darned thing, too.

    Ink, I just have some of the same trappings as those who are cool. I’m, like, cool-adjacent. Not even cool by proxy. But Guest-y.

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