Yesterday I took Penelope to the mall. I didn't really want to go but the house we just moved into still smells like the dead guy who lived here- (may he rest in peace) - and the closest fragrance store is at the mall I used to frequent as a teen.
The car ride was typical. P threw her sippy cup into the car door after whining for it. There it lay upside down, slowly leaking while i attempted to reach for it while swerving through traffic. I quickly gave up and handed her an Elmo toy to eat instead.
But when we got there all the normal boring mall stuff was transformed into wondrous whimsical beauty. When we walked by the gross fountain with dirty pennies on the bottom of it Penelope almost leaped from my arms, pointing her tiny finger. "Ooooooooh!!!" She exclaimed, eyes wide, pupils dilated with ecstasy. I walked trying to carry her while also pushing a stroller full of hand soap and air fresheners as she pointed excitedly to all the stuff that I wouldn't have noticed such as: any person younger than 12, anything colorful or glittery- ranging from a display of jewelry to cell phone covers, escalators going up and down from the food court, the giant skylights.. And right when i was considering buying her a Mrs. Field's cookie on a nostalgic impulse- remembering all the times my grandma used to buy me a cookie when she took me shopping- Penelope pointed at something else and started bouncing. "BaOOOs!" she glanced at me between hops and gestured toward some old 4th of July balloons. Her tone was what a grown up might sound like if they found a $100 bill instead of $3 worth of red, white and blue balloons. It was the first time I'd ever heard her say 'baloon' and I figured she was so happy she didn't even need a cookie.
As we walked out, pointing at all the treasures together I noticed a pet shop and remembered her reactions to the few dogs she's encountered. "Wanna see some doggies?" I asked her, pushing my kid-less stroller, and trying to shift her to my other arm. (She's getting SO HEAVY!). Her reaction to the dogs was better than I could have ever expected. It was like those sweepstakes winner videos, or like she was welcoming a child back from war. She started squealing, kicking her chubby legs, trying to crawl over me to get inside the areas where people were playing with potential pets. "Puppies? You see the puppies?" I said laughing and wrestling to keep her from falling on her head. "PUPPIES! PUPPIES!" She screamed her new word, pointing with both hands. I tried to turn her to show her the other ones but she grabbed the side of the cubby wall where people were test driving potential pets. One test driver was an 8 year old boy who looked on with an expression of confusion and fear. "Look, there's more over here! Let go!" I tried to convince her, peeling her away. But she wouldn't listen to reason and started to melt down. The 8 year old playing with the Schnoodle (Snouser mixed with Poodle) continued to stare.
I managed to get her to other cases of dogs before she was inconsolable. One little puppy jumped onto his hind legs and clawed at us through the case hopefully. Penelope burst into giggles and bounced up and down in rhythm with the dog.
There have been so many milestones since my last post. Her Hungry Caterpillar themed first birthday party: How I cried when everyone sang her Happy Birthday while she just stared at everyone blankly, her first taste of chocolate, how she's almost walking, how she hugs toys and says 'Aww baby!', patting them on the shoulder. But the biggest joys in my days are these kinds of moments-- where she brings a new freshness to something as annoying as going to a mall. The best illustrations of how beautiful she is are these moments. And just as beautiful are the promises that tomorrow will be filled with even more.