My coworker has a 19-month-old daughter whom she brings to the clinic with her sometimes. I didn’t recognize her the other morning because she didn’t start screaming and trying to hide as soon as I walked in the room (“It is because of your white skin,” her mother once explained to me matter-of-factly, “You are so pale it is like a monster.”) Instead, she confidently yelled “HI!” and reached for my hair. Apparently, she has appointed herself as my new best friend. Any time her mother set her down, she would come running for my desk, giggling all the way. I could always tell she was coming because her shoes had squeakers implanted in them like those from a dog toy. As I heard the telltale squeaking getting closer, I’d brace for impact.

She wanted to share everything with me. Snack time? She tore up her potato wedge and offered me half. Tea time? She took a few bites of her slice of bread, then held out the rest to me. ”Shika shika shika,” she insisted over and over again. Take it. Take it. Take it. When I ignored her, she made a frustrated little squeal and hurled it at the side of my face. It hit me in the eye.

I laughed.

In the above picture, she has given up trying to feed me her bread, and is instead settling for an osmosis approach by crumbling bits of it up and dropping it on top of my head while I try to carry on a semi-serious conversation with our lab technician. Forgive the terrible lighting. I was using Mac Photobooth.

Pre-Peace Corps Megan would have lost her will to live rather quickly, but the constant presence of small screamy children has done a lot towards desensitizing me. Her squeaky shoes crack me up. Each time she’d show up at my desk, I’d ask her for her foot, squeak the shoe a couple of times, and we’d both dissolve into maniacal giggling. Of course … it helps that I was only there for the morning that day. 8 hours of that and I might have reverted back to Please Get It Away From Me Before I Drop It Out a Window mode.

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