One otherwise normal school night while carrying out the nightly routines I learned a profound lesson from my then-seven year old.
Climbing into the eldest son’s bunk – hard to do at 30+ weeks pregnant – we’d started a nightly bedtime event called “Mommy-Son Talk”. The boy was allotted 10+ minutes to share all the thoughts in his head before heading to sleepy land. He claims it helps him fall asleep once the thoughts are “out there.”
This particular night he was bouncing from subject to subject – just when I’d zero in on one, armed and ready with an impressive response, he’d cross over to another topic. Rinse and repeat.
Intelligent mother-son conversation was not happening, so my next brilliant strategy was to simply listen and let him talk. Aha – why didn’t I try that first? Turning my face towards his and looking him in the eye, I listened. It was dark, but thankfully the cracked door let enough hall light in for me to see his expressive face
He caught my eye and smiled. I smiled back.
Son: “Mama! Smiles are magic. They really are. It’s so crazy and interesting. Do you want to know why?”
Son: “I know someone in my class who doesn’t like me…”
Mama: “Really?!” (Mama bear is getting roused.)
Son: “Yeah – he doesn’t like me cause he has his two favorite friends. BUT – Mama, if I smile at him, he smiles back. It’s magical since people usually smile back even if they don’t like you.”
A smile is a way to show kindness, and it’s not easily turned away. Even if someone doesn’t like you, it’s a little seed that could settle in their hearts. That little seed could possibly be watered by the next simple act of kindness.
I do recall offering a smile which wasn’t returned – at least they saw the smile – but I also recall times of immaturity when I chose to not smile back – I chose offense – yet still the smile warmed my heart.
It’s a simple kindness you can offer anyone, anytime. As the Beibs sang, “You smile, I smile” – it’s simple seven-year-old logic. And it’s magic.
Simple. Just smile.