When she was but a few months old, GIRL perfected what became known in family circles as the "500 yard stare." Kind of like Winston Churchill during World War II. It was truly a scowl on the face of a beautiful red cheeked babe. Incongruous, yet it fit her. It brought amusement to my siblings, most specifically my brothers. I was always a smiling child, so for me, GIRL's fierce glare reflected a warrior spirit that I never had. It was different, and many people were thrown by it-- expecting to see more of a coy, cooey, ga-ga smile on a little baby girl.
One summer when GIRL was 10 months old, we were vacationing with family on Edisto Island, South Carolina. E and I decided to chance going out to a restaurant to eat lunch. BOY was 20 months old at the time, so "chancing" an outing often meant chasing a very active toddler who always seemed to be interested in what was going on at someone else's table. Our waitress seemed pleasant enough as she took our order. And then she started trying to get GIRL to smile. SCOWL. And the waitress kept trying...SCOWL. And she kept trying...BIG SCOWL.
Well, I'ave nevah had a baby look at me like that before!
Clearly she was put off by this.
We said something about not taking it personally, that GIRL scowls at everyone and thought that that would be the end of it. However, this became akin to GIRL throwing down a gauntlet. The waitress was NOT to be dissuaded. So, every time she came to the table, which was more than we would have liked, the waitress made nice. And she made nice. Finally, when it became painfully obvious that GIRL could not and would not be persuaded to smile at her, the waitress gave up and left us alone.
While I was finishing up lunch and doing the requisite wipe-down of the kids, E decided to pop over to a little boutique across the boardwalk to buy a couple of beach toys. He found a little ball and a pail and shovel set. As he was walking back to the cafe, he ran into the waitress who asked in a voice dripping with sweet tea gone bad:
Is that for the child who smiles or the one who doesn't?
And she was serious. Yes, some people took it personally.
GIRL will be 3 1/2 this month. She still doesn't smile readily at strangers or even family, but when she does it is irresistible in its vastness. And her giggle...it is full and wild. She is addicted to laughter and is the first to instigate it, when she is comfortable. GIRL is an observer. And someday she might be a film critic or a spelling teacher or a wife. She loves rules. But... she also loves to break them. And when she does...there's a BIG 'OL smile on her face. If only Missy Waitress from South Carolina could see her now.