There’s nothing as contagious as a smile. “Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing,” Mother Teresa once said.
Today I made a little boy smile and that brought joy to not just me but to other children also. And that made my heart happy.
My work for a non-profit takes me into schools, both public and private. Usually, however, I perform my job in high schools, seldom do I visit with children younger than sixth grade.
So today was unusual. My colleague and I were talking to teenagers at a health fair about making good choices for a healthy future. In between chats with teens, elementary students also started making rounds at the fair.
My co-worker, a young man with no children, looked panicked for a brief moment at the thought of having to interact with little people instead of cool teenagers. But the Mom in this empty nest Mama came out at the sight of those little ones.
A troupe of kindergartners came by our table en route to a more child-friendly table and were thrilled to pluck silly bands out of the plastic bag of animal shapes we offered them. After spending so much time with 7-12th grade students, I thought these little ones were so darn cute.
Another class marched single file past us and stood in line for the game next door. So after offering them their silly bands, I asked the children what grade they were in. “Second grade!” came the jubilant reply from two or three of them. But the little boy directly in front of me did not answer, just looked at me and frowned.
“Second grade?!” I exclaimed. “You’re getting so old!” I made an exaggerated face. And they all laughed. Except frowny boy. He scowled at me.
Aha, a challenge. So I eyed him up and said, “You don’t look happy to be here like your friends do.” He scowled a little deeper. The sweet little girl next to him said, “Oh, he’s always like that, he NEVER smiles!”
“Never?” I peered at him as his frown grew worse. “Ever?” I asked as I got down on his level and looked right into his cute little face. He knitted his brow, pursed his lips and his frown turned into a really grumpy one.
So I, of course, made a grumpy face back at him. He answered my grimace with an even sterner look which I then matched and used my hands to pull my frown down even more. His classmates giggled and giggled. And I saw a fleeting glimpse of a smile start at the edge of his mouth which he promptly turned into an even greater frowny face.
“Oh no!!!” I said pulling my own frowny face down more, “I think we’ll have to start crying now!” And all of a sudden, he couldn’t maintain the grouchy grumps any longer. His lips started to move, he tried so hard not to, but he burst into not just a smile, but a little laugh out loud.
“You made him smile!!” his classmates yelled. “No one ever makes him smile!” And they laughed, and he laughed and I laughed. And then he put his grumpy Gus face right back on his cute little face.
Inspirational writer Mary H. Waldrip said, “A laugh is a smile that bursts.” And for one brief moment, when that little guy’s smile burst into a laugh, I made his heart glad and he did wonders for mine on Page 15, Chapter 4 in my book called Opportunity.
“It takes a lot of work from the face to let out a smile, but just think what good smiling can bring to the most important muscle of the body… the heart.” ~ Author Unknown