My wife told me what I did not want to hear. Our daughter wanted desperately to redeem her “Walmart Money” at the store. I did not want to go in. So my role quickly switched to keeping our baby in the car whilst the girls went in to shop. Being a father is a joy to me and I am loving the budding relationships that are taking place in my family as we are all growing together. It is a great place to be for sure, and when it comes to our little baby I have been enamored even more so as he picks his mommy, daddy, and sister out of his crowd of onlookers and admirers. I know that this is happening because has a particular smile that he shares with those of us who know him best. Really. Who is capable of resisting such a smile?
The challenge of my duty for those twenty minutes – that felt close to an hour in length – was not new to me. Entertaining a little one is no easy task because he or she will easily grow tired, bored, and frustrated due to sitting still so long. Perhaps this challenge is nothing new to you as well since this may also be an adult challenge. While we exchanged words for the first several minutes in two different dialects I noticed that the typical contagious nature of yawns were proven as we exchanged them several times during those tiresome, midday minutes. When the speech began to lose its flavor for my young one he began to alert me to his early sense of frustration. That is when I remembered something. A few days ago I had let out a head-moving hiccup that aroused cackles of laughter and continued to do so as I replicated the action and sound several times. Perhaps this would work today. Nope. Not this time.
This is when I realized that another desperate effort to break up the monotony of sitting in a vehicle was necessary. What about singing a song in high pitch? No. Play patty cake with his sensationally miniature feet? Not this time. I do not know exactly why I did this, but I began to kick my head back and laugh out loud. This was the game changer. If the yawns were contagious, these laughs were catchy and infectious! We exchanged cackling laughs and smiles to carry us through several more minutes of time together. Were this a competition of who had the most gleeful smiles and boisterous laughter I am certain that I was outdone. As this went on I began to realize that certainly the girls would be on their way out of the store soon. Part of me hoped so. The rest hoped that they would pause their return slightly so that the two of us would enjoy our shared smiles and laughs to their fulfillment. The girls obliged.
It is very likely that this post is more of a reflection meant to impart the beaming joy of a young father who takes pleasure in the catchy smiles of his children. Yet, I additionally find the UNcommon Perspective in what is missing from the way we interact with others in the dull, mundane, and even frustrating parts of our day. When we are tired we switch off our brains and disengage. Boredom causes us to succumb to our handheld media devices. As frustration works its poison through our beings we either become depressed or destructive. I cannot help but propose that smiles are catchy and worthy to be inserted into our days for the sake of a more positive alternative to the times when we must sit still for longer than we desire. How might we infect others for such a change if we simply kick our heads back in laughter, or meet another’s gaze with a catching smile? Sadly, this is uncommon if not rare.
My challenge is to consider this UNcommon Perspective daily by offering a smile in the place of a yawn. They might not be as common as frowns, but they are certainly more inspirational. Shared words may be contentious, shared yawns may tip our hats to tiredom, but it is shared smiles that transcend language and speak deep into our beings. So, smile today! You will be astounded by just how catchy they are.