I love that my mother, who has made a career of working with three to five year olds, lives in California but her favorite children's store is here in Dallas. It's not just the circus shadow puppets or the rack of tutus in the window; it might be the small but inscrutable selection of books (get yourself a copy of "Press Here," for starters).
For me it's also the fact that the owner once left a sigh in the window that said, in the cheeriest block letters: "CLOSED EARLY--BFF IN LABOR!" It doesn't hurt that the previous owner offered yoga classes in the off hours, and I keep hoping that the new owner will decide to follow suit. I may love most of all that the store is called Little Bean. Partly I am already endeared to the word bean, a stand alone pet name or suffix of affection in my family. Partly I love that it gives the owner's sisters the opportunity to crank call the shop and, in ridiculous fake voices, ask as earnestly as possible if they can buy some big beans.
But years from now I will still remember Little Bean as the place my mother found a handmade dolly in a silver dress, the hair red like mine and her embroidered brown eyes like asterisk stars, and bought this dolly and took her home. My parents inherited my grandmother's collection of wrapping paper some years ago--brown paper with cowboy boots, 1970's bright rainbow birds and little houses, sedate blue with lighter blue wedding bells--and this year my mother unspooled the last foot and a half of Strawberry Shortcake print, a wrapping paper quite likely last used for a birthday of mine in the 1980s, to wrap this dolly for me. I can't bear to throw the paper away. And I keep the tag tied to her arm where my mother has written in a cheerful black script of her own: "When the princess was crowned, everyone said she made a lovely queen."