I entered the Y in a rush, three kids close behind as we made our way down the crowded corridor, trying to get one to swimming and the other to gymnastics before classes started.
As we rounded a corner, Jilly stopped dead in her tracks, squeaked “My Friend!” and started to wave to a little girl standing next her mother. The little girl’s face lit up and she waved back. All of a sudden, Jilly did her standard greeting: she walked up to the girl without hesitation, threw her arms around her, and gave her a big hug.
The mother looked at me, smiling, and said, “OH! The girls know each other?!?”
“Yes, I guess they do!” I said uncertainly. “Jilly, how do you know each other?”
“The party. . . you know!”
“Oh. . .yes. . the. . .party?” I looked at the other mother to see if she could fill in the blanks.
“Was she at Joe Josephson’s birthday party?” the other confused mother asked me.
No. . .Jilly and I both nodded together.
“Does she go to Town-Other-Than-Our-Own Elementary School? Maybe they met there?”
“No. . .well. . .um. . .maybe it’ll come to us soon. We’ll keep thinking about it!” I turned, kind of embarrassed that my daughter had mistakenly hugged a total stranger.
As we continued down the hall, I leaned down toward Jilly and asked in a low voice, “Honey, what party are you talking about?”
“Mooooommmm. . .the party we went to at that house. Where I played on the swings with that girl. . .”
And, then it hit me: the girl she played with at a friend’s holiday party. After that party, she had bounced to the car, beaming, and said, “I made a friend!” “What’s her name?” “I don’t know”. (Ahhh, to be six and have friends without names.)
I told the kids to stand still and ran back to the mom: “the girls met at Terrie’s party!”, I said as if I solved some great mystery. (I also thought, “yes! my daughter is not some crazy rogue hugger!”).
A little while later, as both our girls took gymnastics together, we talked about how funny those moments of confusion had been, as we tried to figure out how two friends knew each other.
And I wondered how different adults would be toward each other if we all hugged first, asked questions later.