I never got it. Never understood why people got so obnoxiously excited whenever they got their baby to flash a halfcocked smile their way. Even if it was more of a burp than a smile, they’d temporarily lose their minds if they got that grin.
Why would seemingly normal adults toss all normal behavior aside? Why would they repeat incoherent words and phrases and squeal them at horribly-high pitches? Why would they cross their eyes? Or wag their finger over their vibrating lips? I mean, it’s a smile…just a curl up of the lips, right?
And yes, it is…except that it’s not.
I learned something last week when my son turned his head up at me, looked me square in the eyes and lifted the outside edges of his mouth. I learned his first smile was far more than just a morph of the mouth. It was a powerful exchange between the two of us.
He was telling me something. Telling me things had forever changed between us, and I was no longer just another blob in his life. I was real, safe, and likable. I was someone to entertain and be entertained by…both a mirror and a creator of emotions.
And in that moment, it struck me just how powerful a smile can be. Yes, that very first smile, but really any smile at any age. When even a stranger takes a moment to share an honest smile with us, it’s hard not to return one of our own. When it’s genuine, it’s infectious. It’s powerful. Capable of halting us in the muck of that day and pulling us out…even just for a moment.
Thanks for that first smile, son. I’m taking it with me to share with someone else today…for them to share with someone else today…and for them to….