I have gloated over my grandkids and especially our new baby granddaughter, Phebe Kathryn. Sorry about that but it is Padge’s prerogative. I have truly marveled at all of their first eight years so far. The progressions they make but also how they develop their sense of self and yes, a personality.
Just look at an infant’s facial expressions. They hear a noise. They see a light. They feel a touch. They react. In the very early days and months this is an incredible adventure. Nothing goes unnoticed. It is all going into the memory bank.
In the very beginning they don’t care what you are doing as long as you are feeding them. As a matter of fact I guess that goes on for all of us for too many years. They smell the food or eye the bottle and you are numero uno. But much more is their smile. They approve of you and want to be appreciated as well. There is cooing and billing. Life is good everywhere.
When her brother Anders comes into the room, Phebe lights up. She hears him and the grin appears. Being true show people they now have a Mutt and Jeff act that can be performed on demand. Very cool.
I started thinking about this whole smile thing. It really is a reflection of who you are inside. I can see the older kids force a mug for the camera as if to say “Do I have to?” I also see them chortling full bore and there is a glow that is hard to ignore. Who cares if they are nailing you with a water gun? It’s the best.
I see smiles in the teens. They are sometimes forced. They are awkward. They are embarrassed. They are in the midst of puppy love. They don’t want to show those braces. They are trying to hidebullies and putdowns. They want to show something but they are so confused.
College and post studies give you more of an air. Be cool. Sophisticated. We have got to be thinking of a career. Don’t want to seem too blasé. Sure I can keep my nose to the grindstone. Know your spot. Know your place. You are on display.
Later in life your smile matches your standing. You are important and you want to show it. Don’t flash at just anyone. Remember you are really in the big time now. Be reserved about everything you do. The world is your oyster and there to serve you.
Then it is time to retire. You don’t have to care about anyone else except close friends and family. You have your own little life and let’s not have anybody mess it up. You’ve got plans but they are solitary. No need to involve any one else. You have earned it. Is it a smile or a smirk?
Now life moves on and the smiles are hard to come by. God it hurts when I get up in the morning. Those grandkids are coming by. I love them but only in small doses. My time is valuable you know. Make it between two and three. I have a full schedule.
And you draw further and further into your self. People think you are getting a little grouchy. They are right, but they haven’t been through you have been through. “I’ve worked my ass off like you will never know.” Oh yes I forgot. You earned it.
Then that time comes for it to run out. People gather with frets and fears. They fawn and the fuss. They want you to feel comfortable. You don’t think of the deals you missed. You think of opportunities for love lost. It is so hard to smile. Your body and your heart ache. Maybe just one last time I can force just one more. It is the way I want to be remembered.
I am not sure where I am in the process. And neither are you. I am going to reinvent my smile at least one or two more times. I am going to try to be warm and not superficial. I will have love not hate in my heart. I will forgive and hope that I am forgiven. I just want to tell you how good life has been to me.
I want to be like Phebe. I want to light up when people enter the room. I want to listen so hard and strain my eyes so I can pick up every detail. I want to put them in my mind to treasure. I can think of so many reasons to smile. Here comes another one now.
Ted The Great.
There was a study that measured smiles in high school yearbook photos and looked at what the students were up to decades later. The bigger smilers were more likely to be in a long-lasting marriage and to have a better sense of personal well-being
Another study found that the size of major league baseball players’ smiles in their trading-card photos predicted longevity. Players who didn’t smile at all lived an average of 72.9 years, those with some semblance of a smile lived 75 years and those with a “beaming smile” lived to be nearly 80. Right on.
Smiling is contagious, and children do it as often as 400 times a day. How many times have you smiled today? I bet you are smiling right now.
In brain studies, a smile stimulates the brain as much as 2,000 bars of chocolate and lowers stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and while boosting positive ones. Let’s have a smile run for office.
It takes 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown.