This afternoon I was seated by the window of a coffee shop when a woman came by with two young girls about 5 or 6 years old; both were enjoying their ice cream. The girls sat down at the outside table adjacent to my window as the woman entered the coffee shop. One of the girls gave me a big smile and waved at me; my heart was filled as I waved back. It was a moment of pure magic.
As the woman passed where I was sitting, I decided to tell her of the smile and wave. The woman said to me in a very friendly, open way - "I tell her all the time not to talk with strangers". I reassured her - "No talking; just smiling and waving". As the woman was being waited on, I tried to return to my reading but found I was having difficulty. The moment of magic had been interrupted. I looked at the girls and I thought about what the woman had said. I wondered: How do we all help our children learn appropriate caution while ensuring they also know the world is mostly made up of decent people like me, the man who smiled & waved back? I thought of what I wanted to say to the woman when she left the shop but before I could decide, she passed me and said very pleasantly "Have a great day". Another moment of magic.
The girls were still enjoying their ice cream as the woman entered the store right next to the coffee shop, it's front door open so the girls were within both her sight and easy reach. I left the coffee shop and said nothing to the girls as I walked by them. I waited a few moments trying to decide if I wanted to chance a final magic moment. I composed a script I would use to speak with this woman one last time: "Excuse me, I promise I'm not a creep, I just want to tell you how much I enjoyed that moment of smiling & waving and...." When I got to the part of my script about not being a creep, the magic was interrupted again. I realized what I really wanted to do was ask her, a total stranger, the exact question I posed above. But wouldn't the question itself be creepy? I decided to take this chance. When the woman came out of the shop I did preface my question with the "...not a creep..." stuff but it was unnecessary. She was just as open and friendly and pleasant as she was when she passed me both ways in the coffee shop. And she answered the question as well as anyone possibly could. She said "I don't know how to do that - and I think about it all the time".
Another moment of magic. I walked home very happy.