12/22/2011 05:54 pm ET | Updated Feb 21, 2012

Just One Hug: My Friendliness Makes a Toddler Cry (VIDEO)

Strange things happen when I attempt to befriend children, as you'll see in the following video:

I've known little Mary since she was born, and we've spent quality time together, but she still refuses my friendship. In this video I continuously ask her for a hug, which she rebuffs... first by inching away from me, then by burying her head in her arms, and finally by crying.

Unfortunately, this was not the first time my friendliness led to chaos, judgment, or embarrassment. When I approach children, tears are shed. Cries, sometimes piercing, are heard. Feelings are hurt, and not just mine.

The worst incident occurred in Stockholm several summers ago. I was enjoying a caffeine boost in an urban McDonald's when a young woman sat at the table beside mine with her toddler. The toddler looked at me between licks of ice cream, and I smiled back at him, then waved.

All of a sudden, the towheaded toddler hurled his ice cream toward the ground and began screaming at the top of his lungs. In his panic, he inadvertently caused his mother's tray of food to tumble to the ground. I, fixing my eyes on my cup of coffee, hoped the child's and my distress would soon cease, but out of nowhere appeared a tall, angry man, the child's father. He reprimanded me in Swedish, not that I understood a word, as perplexed as I was by his child's fit.

I'd like to say that my adult size, voice and stature are to blame for these incidents, but I am a relatively normal adult. Besides, I've been scaring children since I was one.