When we were on vacation we went to a little ice cream place every night after dinner. They had two big windows with all the ice cream in big buckets and 60 flavours to choose from... Ok a big ice cream place!
One evening we walked with the kids so they were standing around the front of the windows with us as we chose our flavours for the evening. Another couple was there ahead of us trying to decide.
Rachel had been walking with daddy on the way over but at some point when we arrived he stepped away from her or she stepped away from him. When she refocused she went to the closest pair of daddy legs and snuggled up, rested her little hand on his calf and tilted her head close.
You know where I'm going with this right?
Those legs weren't her daddy's legs.
Some comment from the man or his wife caught our attention. It was something kind and gentle but I immediately looked over and saw what was happening.
I called her name and she looked at me but didn't come over. I encouraged her to come and she looked away rested her head more firmly on the man's leg. The man smiled, tried to catch her attention by saying hi, gently touching her hair.
Andrew beside me called her, 'Rachel daddy's here. Daddy's over here.'
She looked at Andrew, looked at me, smiled and wrapped her arm more tightly around the man's leg. We laughed and the other couple laughed.
'Rachel come to daddy, daddy is here.'
She kept looking at the two of us. You could see her mind very slowly processing what she was looking at -mommy, daddy... mommy, daddy...daddy, me.... Leg.... pause....
Her smile faded and she slowly pulled dropped her arm as she tilted her head back to see whose leg it was. And as her head tilted up, her little mouth tilted down in a frown of pure fear. When her eyes locked on the stranger's very kind face she started crying.
Andrew was kneeling by then with his arms out to her and she ran into them.... And stayed in a big bear hug for a good 5 minutes. She didn't leave his arms until we had left the store and were at the park to eat the ice cream.
I'm sure it won't be the last time one of them mistakes a stranger for one of us but it was the first and it was both hilarious and heartbreaking at the same time.