The other day at the supermarket, in front of me in the checkout line, there was a little boy. I would have estimated him at about four years of age, in which I was soon to be proved wrong.
In front of the little boy was a giant of a man, bald, face scarred, wide shoulders, an estimated 90 kg of muscle only, pronounced berlin accent and apparently the wee one's father.
'Poor thing', thought I, 'I'd be scared of your dad, too.'
The boy was going through the display of summer toys that was conveniently placed right beside the checkout line so that every child must find time to pick up at least one toy and pester his parents with it. As far as I could see, the toys were mostly squirt guns, different colors and models, one soaking purpose.
The little one found one that pleased him and brought it to Mister Monster Dad in front of me. Who promptly squinted down, blushed, and muttered under his breath 'Oh no, last week it was teddy bears, now it's guns!', sounding almost desperate.
Pause. Both boys looking at each other.
A deep breath of air - 'Aurelius, come on. ('Aurelius' takes on a whole new meaning when it's pronounced by someone with a berlin accent, believe me. I started to chuckle right then and there.) I can't buy you something every time we're here! Last week we bought a teddy bear!'
By this time, the big man was definitely sounding desperate. Aurelius was looking at him with huge eyes, pleadingly.
Personally, I thought that, were the mother here, the argument would have been over before it even started, a clear 'no' leaving no doubt about who was in charge. The father, on the other hand, broke out in a cold sweat.
'Aurelius, really. We'll just put it here, right beside the cashier's register and pick it up next time.'
The little boy knew right away that this was a ruse though and didn't budge. Still holding the squirt gun out to his father.
More sweat beading on big dad's brow. A look down the line of people waiting behind them to check out, a weak smile crossing the father's face. The whole checkout line was grinning by then, of course.
'Aurelius, look. We'll have goulash soup tonight. I made that yesterday, remember?! Won't that be good?'
'Come one. Lame tactic!' I thought. Aurelius didn't even blink an eye.
'Ah, let's see here', said the dad, 'oh, Aurelius, you need to be at least four to have this gun! (a hint of relief) How old are you?'
The boy held up three fingers and said 'four'.
'You're three, Aurelius, look at those fingers, and... uuuups, you need to be five even to have this squirt gun! (definite note of relief here. He showed the toy to his son, covering the 'Meter' that indicates 'squirt gun range' with his forefinger, leaving out only the '5'to be seen).'
At this point I couldn't contain my laughter any more. I turned around and saw that the five people behind me were laughing as well, trying just as hard not to show it, so as not to destroy this feeble attempt at fatherly authority. When I turned back again, the father was just giving the squirt gun to the supermarket employee at the register, telling his son that they will pick it up when he's old enough.
It makes me happy to know that I'm not the only one with a problem to say no.