Instead, the babies do it for us. They inch towards one another with clumsy crawls, uninhibited smiles, and small reaches of the hand. They do not shirk away from looking a stranger straight in the eyes, and we secretly envy their innocent gumption.
We let the babies share their toys, make their faces at one another, and we laugh at their antics -- usually just to ourselves, in our own safe bubble of private space.
But then -- a question is ventured:
"How old is she?"
An answer comes, and then the question is thrown back.
With that, the dance partners are chosen.
Then -- another question emerges:
"What's her name?"
And from this second dance step, we feel comfortable enough to talk about nap times and the difficulty of making our way to play group in the first place -- about milestones and feeling fortunate to be home with the baby "for now, at least -- but that could change."
As we leave, we tentatively gauge distances from each other -- testing the waters for a potential friendship. We ask the mommy-version pickup lines, such as, "Do you live around here?" and maybe even, "So... do you come here often?"
Before the door opens and we step out to leave, perhaps this social dance has gone so well as to ask for numbers and e-mails -- to possibly set up a future time for play-dates and much-needed SAHM socialization. And then finally, the realization --
"Oh - what's your name, by the way?"
-- because it's always a vital dance step to realize that we only made it so far as to ask for the babies' names. We simultaneously feel foolish but smile the understanding smile that communicates: yes, in fact, our children are taking over our identities. At least, part of the time.
We conclude with waves -- both from and to each other, as well as from and to the babies -- and politely say grownup things like, "Okay, take care!" and, "Nice meeting you!" before heading off on our separate paths home, waiting until next week to begin the mommy dance all over again.