Smile at children.

A few years ago I was on a first date with a guy I’d met at a wedding.  We were in Mill Valley, sitting in the shade in the plaza after a long hike.  There was a pause in the conversation and then he asked me:  “So. . . how many kids do you want?”

Big question for a first date!  I asked why he had asked me that.

“Because I’ve watched you all afternoon and you smile at every kid you see.”

It’s true.  And it’s on purpose. I think it’s important to smile at children. As a grown-up with 38 years of experience living on this earth, I consider it one of my responsibilities to those who are new.  A smile tells them that they are welcome here.

Emotions are contagious.  You know this already, right?  It’s possible to catch someone else’s bad mood.  Or someone else’s happiness.

Children are very sensitive to emotion.  They pick up on subtle cues that tell them about the world.  Look at kids with hope, and they feel hopeful.  Look at them with love, and they feel loved.  Look at them with acceptance, and they feel accepted.  Look at them with scorn, disapproval, or distaste and, well, you know.

Maybe you’ve even been there.

(Haven’t we all?)

Spread joy and gladness and love with kids — and let them infect you with their sense of wonder and play.