My Parents Only Met Because Of Me

Photo: Jovanmandic, thegoodphoto | Canva 
Little girl in pink hanging out on apartment steps

“What I’ve realized is that life doesn’t count for much unless you’re willing to do your small part to leave our children — all of our children — a better world. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.“ —Barack Obama

The Pretty Pink Princess

I was a four-year-old sitting on the front steps of the tall apartment building — dressed in full pink princess regalia. I had on an enormous fluffy pink dress. I was fully accessorized: pink socks with white lace, pink lace-up shoes, pink gloves, a little shiny jeweled tiara, and a small pink purse. My two ponytails were hanging down my back with lots of pink barrettes adorning them.

This was not the first time my Ma dressed me like a little doll. I often sat on the steps watching the other kids play. My mother was eighteen and took considerable pride in keeping her little girl clean, fed, and dressed. I was her living doll.

The other kids were playing tag in the street. They were running back and forth. Ma taught me to sit quietly on the step. Our apartment didn’t have air conditioning, so I sat outside to stay cool once I had my travel clothing on.

Whenever we arrived at our destination, I’d be the star attraction for family and friends. I was the only small child. There were no other children anywhere we went with my mother’s friends. I spent most of my time around adults, reading picture books and listening to their conversations.

Books, cookies, candy, and toys were available to me at these gatherings. My favorite was pop, i.e. carbonated soda. It was sweet and cold, given to me in little cups. Strawberry and Orange Crush were my favorites.

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Not Talking To Strangers

A handsome, tall man with brown eyes exited the building and stopped. He said, “Hey, little girl, why are you sitting there looking so pretty? Don’t you want to go play?”

I turned my head away from him and said, “No. I’m going somewhere with my Mommy. I must sit here.”

He asked me, “Why?”

I said, “I can’t talk to you.”

He said, “Why?

I explained to him why I should not talk to him. He was a stranger danger, and I couldn’t talk to strangers. My mother and I lived in this building. I was intelligent and pretty, and many bad people like little girls, so I shouldn’t talk to him. If I got taken, I knew my address by heart. Did he want to hear it?

He agreed with me, we should not be talking as we continued our conversation. His name was Ben. What was mine? He sat down on the step next to me. I heard the ice cream truck turning the corner and heading toward us. The truck slowed down and stopped.

The man brought ice cream cones for himself and me. We ate ice cream as I continued to ‘not talk’ to him. I encircled my cone in napkins so I wouldn’t get ice cream on my clothing. While continuing not to talk, he told me he moved in yesterday.

My mom came out of the building. She was not happy. Mom looked great. She dressed in pink to match me: pink dress, pink shoes, and a pink purse. Ma asked him what he was doing. He laughed and told her he was not talking to the little princess, and I was not talking to him. We were watching the other children play and eating ice cream. She frowned at his smart-aleck response.

I helpfully added, “Don’t talk to him, Ma. He’s a stranger.”

Ma looked into his eyes. He smiled, and she frowned. And we left.

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Always Waiting

The next time I sat on the steps, he was already there when I came out. This time, he had Juicy Fruit gum. We proceeded to ‘not talk’ about a lot of things. My mom came out and sat next to us, all of us not talking about our day. He shared his gum with us.

Each time I was sitting on the steps, if he were home, Ben would come out. When he came out to sit on the step with my mother, he had something for the three of us to share. Eventually, I didn’t need to sit on the step for them to talk.

Ben suggested to my mother maybe I would like to play with the other children. So, my mom dressed me in play clothes. She sat on the steps with Ben, watching me play.

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Married Within A Year

After a while, we left the steps and went to other places with Ben. This man proposed to my mom and became my dad within a year. He said he was marrying her so I would be his daughter. I believed him. I still do.

I was responsible for my parents’ meeting. When I was older, I asked my dad why he kept coming out to talk to me. He had arrived in the big city from a small town in Mississippi. He did not know anyone in his new town when he arrived. He changed my and my mother’s life.

It was fortuitous I was there when he knew only an adorable little girl who would not talk to him. The rest, as they say, is history.

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Toni Crowe retired from corporate America to follow her writing passion. She shares her hard-won life lessons in her writing, with six books written including two best sellers.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.