Imagine, if you will, a play place at the mall. In it there is a small rowboat divided into two sections by a small bench to sit on. On one side of the bench, nestled in the spot where the feet would go if you were sitting on the bench, is a young girl perhaps 2 ½ or 3 years old. Ava crawled into the other side facing the bench and the girl.
Now, what would usually happen here is that the other child would make some sort of friendly advance towards Ava. She would respond by screaming and turning away as if she’d been attacked in some way and I would have to apologize to the parent and explain that Ava reacts that way to everyone. I promise. Their child had been perfectly polite – friendly even. Then Ava would run/crawl/climb away as quickly as possible while I try to explain to her that the other child was just trying to be nice.
This time was different – wonderfully different. The other little girl glanced at Ava, only briefly, and smiled and then began drumming on the bench. Ava smiled back and began drumming too. They were playing together. Both laughing. Making eye contact. When one would stop, the other would start again and more laughter and drumming ensued. At one point the other little girl stood up saying, “Up!” and Ava immediately mimicked her standing up and saying “Uh!” And then they both sat down and drummed some more.
Then two other little girls tried to climb in too and broke the magic spell. At that point things were way too crowded for Ava and she left. The whole thing couldn’t have lasted more than 90 seconds, but they were a magical 90 seconds.
Imagine, other parents take such things for granted.