I love watching toddlers

Baby animals, baby humans. All of ’em.

I love watching them negotiate with their feet and uncertain legs and walk for the first time. Personally, I consider it a semi-miracle that they can do it at all. Whatever gives them the impetus to get up on those little pads and move forward, their eyes full of the difficult wonder of it?

So I always smile when I see little ones, whether they’re walking or being pushed in a stroller.

Last Friday, I saw such a small person in a stroller manned by her dad. She was ash blondish, hair to her shoulders and a few fingers in her mouth. She looked as if she were pondering some deep matter. As I passed by, I smiled at her and wiggled my fingers in that waving-to-a-child gesture we all seem to make, I know not why.

She did not respond.

She and her father had stopped to talk to someone but soon he’d moved them into the pedestrian passing lane, so to speak, and was parallel to me. I noticed the little girl was now looking directly at me, still with her serious expression and her fingers in her mouth. So once again, I did my smile and finger-wiggle thing.

No response. So, as the father, who walked more quickly than I, passed me, I gave her one more smile+fingers. Nuthin’.

Until I saw one little hand move out of the stroller toward the back and I thought, “Oh, she’s going to wave to me!” Uh-uh. The little hand closed on the edge of the stroller’s accordian canopy and sharply pulled it forward, curtaining off any passer-by.

I burst out laughing and said, “I’ve been rejected!”

“Don’t take it personally,” her father said to me. “She’s just finished with her week.”

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