Yesterday I was on a mission. It was a very important mission.
I had to go pick up a massive cookie for my friends’ kid’s birthday party. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt that much pressure being able to get from the office to the middle of town before closing and get it back in a way that said 7-year-old-to-be wouldn’t realise why I was there.
There were issues. The first was that the car park I chose had a ticket machine that didn’t accept the new pound coins that have been in circulation for 4 months. Someone else’s remaining time acquired, cookie was also in my possession when I realise that the kid’s name is not spelt the same way as his more famous namesake. Quick check in the street, all good.
Arrive at friends’ place, fold paper bag in such a way as not to display any branding and deliver to the door. Leave cookie in safe place but meet entire family on the way back to my car. “Did I leave some keys here at the weekend?”, I asked. I made that up, on the spot. I was so proud!
As I was leaving, I shouted back to the 6 364/365 year old and said, “Have a good birthday tomorrow!”
The reply came back. “OK.”
Okay? Okay? His father “corrected” him and made him say thank you.
I was thinking about the conversation as I drove away. The kid’s answer was probably the right one given what I’d said. I phrased it as a command and he suggested that he would do as he was told. This was far from what I wanted to convey because, to quote Lesley Gore, it would be his party and he could cry if he wanted to.
Yet his father, understanding that I was expressing a hopeful sentiment, knew that the answer that should be given was thanks.
People talk about “saying what you mean” and it’s normally off the back of a difficult situation. In this situation, I wasn’t skirting an issue or being subtle holding something back. I’d simply said something that was so common in the circumstance that I assumed everyone knew what it meant. Maybe, though, you sometimes need a child’s interpretation to show you that something you through was right could also be pretty wrong.
Another thing I maybe did wrong that day but that felt oh so right? The box of a dozen cookies I bought for myself mid-mission.