We give cookies to children. We like to keep them happy. We like to keep the moms and dads happy. We want them all to remember Mary's as a fun place. They get to pick one from the case, which is a fun experience.
And we don't want children to sulk or scream or whine or pout or otherwise disrupt the bakery while they are here. Putting a cookie in their hand is usually a good start in this direction.
Two-year-olds are not usually picky (although there is the occasional spoiled child, or the child just up from a nap -- or overtired and overdue). But, you can often pick any cookie from the display case and hand it to them to produce an instant smile.
First-timers and exceptionally shy children are also easy to please. Their eyes say they want a cookie but their lips are shut tight. With the gift of a cookie, we often become instant friends for life.
Older children in Alabama have often been taught to be extremely polite with adults. We never know if they are happy but they are quick with the "yes m'am" and "thank you m'am."
It's the middle aged children that are the hardest to please. The 3-, 4- and 5-year olds. They are very independent and exceptionally honest. We have one young boy who comes in several days per week with his mother. He likes picking out a decorated shortbread cookie. Unfortunately, lately, the selection has been slim. Mostly shamrocks. And, as a frequent visitor, he's probably bored with them.
Yesterday was the worst day in a few weeks in terms of decorated cookies. It was St. Patrick's Day and we were out of shamrocks, and had not finished decorating the new batch of Easter and Spring cookies. I offered him a glazed (but not decorated) cookie, but he refused, eventually settling for a snickerdoodle (which in his opinion did not have enough sprinkles...)
He came in today and I was able to offer him a selection of decorated bumble bees, butterflies, bunnies, ducks, sheep and flowers.
Big smile. "THESE are the ones I like" he said, "the DECORATED ones."
And, all is well with the world.