Looking Back: Bested by Our 4-Year-Old Niece! By Scott Reitz

I have come across my share of bad guys to be sure… bank robbers, gang members, murderers, politicians etc. Brett and I have also raised our own children and overcome all the obstacles and impediments that normal, everyday life seems to throw at us as. In short, we have been “through the mill,” but I have never, ever been thoroughly defeated and thrashed by a four year old until now.

The setting: We took our absolutely adorable, four-year old great niece, Sophie, for the day here in glorious, sunny Los Angeles in July. (Think of Shirley Temple and a dark-haired Annie wrapped in one enchanting little girl!) The temperature was a balmy 105 degrees with not a wisp of wind in evidence. Brett suggested we go to the Getty Museum as she wanted to see the Egyptian exhibit there. Sophie seemed intrigued with the thought of a tram taking us up the hill and of seeing a real mummy. Fair enough.

Firstly, there was the choking, carbon monoxide underground parking, then the long queue in a slow motion, sweating (deodorant is not a high priority among some tourists) line of progression, which seemed to go on forever. Sophie entertained us with her prodigious mathematical skills. Everything was counted (tram cars, people, statues, line poles…everything. Then it was up the slow tram – stop at the top – disembarkation and…”I’m hungry.” I was unaware (perhaps somewhat forgetful) that a four- year old could work up such an appetite and thirst. She chose a bag of Doritos and a green apple. The bag of chips was half eaten, as was the apple when she announced that she was bored and then on to the exhibits.

If you can envision a ping-pong ball in a wind tunnel it would not compare with Sophie’s energetic stops at multiple museum exhibits. Condensing our collective explanation of each exhibit became an immediate art form. From start to finish I’d give it about 10 seconds for a thorough debrief on whatever the hell it was we were looking at and then… zoom… it’s off to the next hall and I mean OFF! Just being able to keep up with her was a challenge. The curiosity of a four-year old who soaks in everything like a sponge is amazing. Uh-oh, she was hungry again. “Do they have French fries?” She asked.

The mummy exhibit seemed a bit anti-climactic to her, and this was the principal reason for our being there in the first place! There it was laid out in all its 4,000 year old, mummified glory in a glass exhibition case which we held her up to see. “Okay, you can put me down.” 3 seconds at most. “Hey, what’s this?” She was off to the next hall in and around and between the throngs of tourists with the two of us in hot pursuit. Uh-oh, she was thirsty now.

Off to the food court again and then, of course, the gift shop. A four year old girl will desire just about everything she comes across in such an establishment. Now Brett used some rather fascinating psychological rationale with Sophie to distract her while I bought a miniature museum quality, authentic and fully enameled sarcophagus with a wrapped mummy inside! Of course, she immediately knew not only exactly what I had just purchased, but that it was a souvenir for her.

Well, that was about it for the museum. Then it was back down the tram into underground parking and we heard ”I’m hungry” again. We ended up towards Santa Monica at a food court off San Vicente. Sophie was still interested in those French fries, so we purchased the super-sized order, which she quickly devoured! Brett asked if she wanted something to drink and she replied, “water, please”. By this time Brett and I were just about spent and really, really thirsty. We desired two large, ice-cold lemonades. Guess what? They didn’t take credit cards at this particular outdoor establishment. Brett and I rummaged through our pockets and only had enough between us to purchase just one cup of lemonade. As soon as the lemonade hit the table, Sophie picked up the cup and started drinking. Her water was no longer interesting. By now it’s about 108 degrees and Brett sat stoically by, dying of thirst, while Sophie drained the entire ice infused tumbler with not a care in the world as she regaled us with all manner of facts, which a four-year old girl deems important. A scene from The Three Amigos where Chevy Chase casually finishes his canteen of water and applies lip gloss in front of his famished compadres comes to mind.

Sophie fell asleep in the car as we drove her home. Brett looked back at her enviously. As soon as we got home, Brett and I sat down on the couch and woke up about three hours later as if a freight train had hit us. Our four-year old niece absolutely bested us and righteously kicked our butts. We are now in intense training for the next go-around… and she’s worth it!

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