Sunday, March 2, 2008

GIRL's "500 yard stare"

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 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.

submit to reddit


  1. I'm thinking that GIRL is going to have an awesome poker face. Start teaching her the game soon.

  2. What gets me is how those people look at the parents, as if we are to blame for them not smiling back!?

  3. She sounds like a well-rounded girl. My girl has a look too. It makes me laugh and makes me proud all at the same time.

  4. my personal fave is when Peep deliberately leans in and tries to get all serious and squinty eyed. little girls are the yummiest creatures ever. i can never get over how proud i am of her when i see her calling, "mommy coming!" as i arrive to pick her up from school...

    is school over yet???

  5. The Queen definitely does not smile at strangers. I do not have a problem with this. Other people (we are in Kentucky, a similar mindset to those in SC) call her shy. She is not shy, she is wary. You have to prove yourself to her. Once you do, she's friends forever. DeBoy never met a stranger. He has no natural inhibitions and this will be challenging later on.

  6. I love that little girl!! She sounds like me when I was little. My parents could have told this story. I was like this for a lot of my life, but not anymore. I think she is - an observer - like you said. That is what I was. It will serve her well. I hope she learns to smile more easily, though. I think being like that as a child caused people not to want to be near me and that can feel lonely. She sounds adorable - your sweet little girl. Take care and I'll see you soon. Kellan

  7. What is it with the people who want everyone smiling all the time?

  8. She just wants you to really treasure those smiles...and it sounds like you do :)

  9. Mrs. G is right about the poker face.

    "irrestible in its vastness"--I love how you put words together.

    This was great.

  10. Missy Waitress from South Carolina forgot her manners.

  11. I've encountered people like that waitress. Hearing your story makes it funny.

    I remember telling my mother that my daughter was so serious, and her replying, "she's not a ninny, you know." Well, all righty then.

  12. Spud didn't scowl, but neither did he smile. EVER. Seriously. I think we have two pics of him smiling from birth to 18 months.
    Your waitress would have had a conniption fit.
    Poor thing's gotta get out more.

  13. Did E punch the waitress? I want to.

  14. HRH has had that disapproving look since he was an infant as well. The problem is that he often uses it on my side of the family. Then again, they don't treat him like the second coming of Christ.

    It's best that these two forces never meet.


This blog is no longer taking comments.

Copyright © 2007-2014 JCK.

The content on these pages is the sole property of the author and may not be used or reproduced in any manner without consent.

All Rights Reserved.