The plan was simple. Drop off laundry, share a donut, then play on the playground. It was going to be perfect. Until...
Just as Emma was double-stuffing her mouth with donut, a large group of 3-5 year olds walked by. From the general kid chatter I heard once voice rise above the others, "Hey! She got two donuts!" Then there were more. "Say whaaaaaaat?" "Hey that girl got two donuts!" "Who said donuts?"
It was cute. Fine. Great. They walked on into the playground (not past it, as I'd hoped), we finished our donuts and went inside. It only took about two minutes for the first voice to find me, a little girl with cornrows and a dramatic flair.
"Hey why did she have two donuts?"
Try explaining to a 4 year old that she really only had 3/4ths of one, since we shared two and she didn't eat two full halves. Yeah, I skipped that conversation entirely.
"We were sharing them," was the simpler reply.
"Why didn't you share some with us?"
I have to admit that I was too easily rendered speechless. I have gone up against judgmental meanies, annoying smarty-pants blondes, men who think too much of themselves, and rude people in grocery stores, but it was a 4 year old that took me completely off guard.
"We didn't have enough," was what I finally managed to come up with.
"Hey do you have any more donuts?" asked another voice behind me, one belonging to a boy with blue eyes and curly hair.
"No, I'm completely out."
"You should go and get some more!" suggested Drama Girl. "I'd like one with sprinkles. And Coffee. No, a smoothie!"
"Okay, okay, I'll tell you what," at this point I was willing to say anything, "If I see you next time, I'll save you one."
"Me too?" Curly jumped up and down on a bench.
"Sure, kid, sure."
"When will I see you next time? Because I'm going to be here for three weeks!"
"I have absolutely no idea." Only in my mind I was saying, "Never, ever, ever!!!!"
I should have known that wouldn't be the end of it. Within seconds Drama Girl had returned with friends. "This is her! She says next time, she's going to bring us all donuts!!!" I spent the rest of our time at the playground swarmed with children of various ages and ethnicities.
"I'm 4 years old! Next year I'll be 6!"
"You know what, Miss Maria gave Katie a purse because she was being quiet, but I was being quiet and I didn't get one."
"Are you really going to bring us all donuts?"
"I can drink coffee. My mom lets me because I'm oldest."
"Yeah her mom lets her. I want a smoothie."
"Will my donut have sprinkles?"
"I don't like the kind with red stuff in the middle."
"I want pink sprinkles!"
"Ooooo! Me too!"
We left earlier than planned.
The whole experience opened an ethical conversation for me. What was the experience for these kids? Do they really think that I'm going to bring donuts and smoothies? They don't understand that there probably won't be a next time, that I have no plan of going back to Dunkin Donuts at that exact time of day. And since they probably don't understand that, does that make me a liar for letting them believe that they will see me again, and that I will have donuts for them? How disappointed will they be if it never happens? Will they look for me tomorrow?
If they look for me tomorrow, they will not find me. I plan on avoiding that playground for the next three weeks, because I have no intention of buying three dozen donuts for someone else's kids.