Today I was at Freshman (a local juice store) and I saw a mother and daughter pair.
There was a throng of people milling around, looking at the menu display, struggling with the terrible decision of choosing between Radiant Skin (strawberry, tomato, celery?) or Energy Booster (banana, something something) and 20 other different combinations all purporting to enhance your health and make you into a lean mean fat burning machine with radiant skin.
The mother and daughter pair were not out of the ordinary.
The mom was eating something. Something white and round. I think it was a panfried bun from the store next door. She offered some to her daughter in that insistent mummy way. You know, when mothers want you to eat something they tell you, “just have a small bite. Just one! It’s very yummy! Mhmm! So good! (lip smacking sounds)”. She tried putting it near her daughter’s lips and her daughter shrank back away from the offending item and went back to what she was doing that really caught my attention-
staring intently at the juice menu.
I could see it in her eyes, that intensity. The rigidity of her body as she stood there clutching the $5 note in her small hand.
I don’ t know how to describe it. I could almost see her struggling to make out the choices, wondering which one she should choose. Not in a flippant childlike way (She could only at most, be 13) between chocolate or strawberry but in that intense calculative way (I’ve sadly, come to recognize). Weighing, weighing, pondering, wondering, calculating. I could almost see her counting calories, biting her lip in agony as she tried to decide which one she would choose. Her mother sighed in annoyance, asked if she was done.
I watched as she stood beside me at the counter and whisper, “one metabolism booster please”.
Drink in hand several seconds later, her mother steers her away from the shop and asks “Are you sure you don’t want dinner?”
She shakes her head. Tiny fingers connected to a tiny wrist clutching her juice cup. Perhaps I am thinking too much. Perhaps it was simply as innocuous as it looks. Perhaps I just desperately want to believe otherwise.
I know too many 13 year olds these days with too many stories and too many struggles.