Timmy and I sat in the hallways of church during Mass last Sunday. As we sat there, Timmy intently watched the people as they walked by us. As each person approached, Timmy garnished a smile and began jumping on his bum, waving his hands and “talking” to them. Some people smiled…some did not.
What was interesting and increasingly sad was Timmy’s reaction when they didn’t smile, look at him, or respond in any way. The more it happened, the more you could see the disappointment sink into his face. As the exchanges took place…or the lack their of, Timmy would stop getting so excited as people approached. Eventually, Timmy stopped responding and returned to paying attention to me instead of trying to engage everyone that walked by.
I think what really hurt the most was knowing that his little mind was working and learning cause and effect. Of all the interactions he had had up until then, he was always greeted with a smile, coos, and personal attention. Now he was being exposed to the reality of life…that sometimes people don’t interact or smile and mostly, that he is not the center of attention. While he will continue for many years believing he is the center of attention, it was hard for me to watch him try to invoke a reaction and not receive one. After all, how could you NOT smile at this beautiful boy’s face?
It makes me wonder…how does this NON-reaction affect society as a whole?