ROME, Italy -- Three-year-old Estella had arrived in Rome the day before, jet-legged and tired. The toddler must have been a bit bewildered when her parents and godfather were up before dawn waiting in line to see a man dressed all in white. And then her eye found what she really wanted -- that hat.
The viral moment between Pope Francis and Estella left the crowd laughing and her parents shrugging. "There's never a dull moment," her mother, Alexis Westrick said. It's a sentiment the parents of toddlers around the world understand.
The Westrick family from Douglasville, Georgia was in Rome visiting Estella's godfather, Mountain Butorac. Back when Butorac lived in Georgia, they all attended the St. Theresa Catholic Church. Butorac captured the Estella-Pope moment on his cell phone.
Took my Goddaughter to meet the pope. She stole his hat! pic.twitter.com/SdSorop3uN— Mountain Butorac (@MountainButorac) March 22, 2017
"A security guard came by, grabbed Estella, she gave him [Pope Francis] a kiss, and she stole his hat," Butorac said. Pope Francis's belly laughs spread through the group. He looked to his left with a raised eyebrow. "The Pope thought it was hilarious," Butorac said. "He did take the hat back. She didn't get to keep it."
"When Estella wants something, she'll grab it. Just like a 3-year-old," he dad, Scott Westrick said.
That idea might have been inspired by a tradition Estella saw as they waited. Butorac said it's a tradition for people to bring the Pope a hat "just like the one he has," and exchange them. Estella didn't have a hat to exchange, but had clearly seen the Pope's hat come and go.
12 News partner station WXIA spoke with the family via Skype Wednesday afternoon. Estella was exactly what you'd expect from a toddler: excited to see herself in the Skype app, and quickly bored by the whole conversation.
"She's like, 'Why does everyone want to keep talking about this? I'm bored,'" her mom said.
The kiss, the swipe, and the laughter had been seen thousands of people around the world by Wednesday afternoon. Estella's family was amused by the whole hat hoopla.
"I think she just saw a hat and wanted to take it and doesn't understand why everyone thinks this is so funny," her godfather said.