Every morning during the work week I drop my kids off at daycare. Since I am not naturally a morning person, I usually don’t rise with a smile on my face. To make things worse, the process of getting everyone dressed, fed, and out the door tends to be a mad dash. While we try to have all of our daughter’s bottles made and both kids’ bags packed the night before, getting everyone up and moving in the same direction is like herding cats.
By the time the kids and I arrive at daycare, it’s a toss-up of what mood the kiddos will be in. Most mornings, I can drop them off without incident, but sometimes I have to leave while they are crying, which rips my heart out. On days like this, it’s really hard to put a smile on my face. When the day starts out rough, it’s hard to switch it around.
My wife, on the other hand, has the job of picking the kids up from daycare. It’s a bright spot in her day, to say the least. It’s kind of a good cop vs. bad cop role that we take on. I drop the kids off (bad cop) and my wife picks them up (good cop). My wife always tells me that she looks forward to picking the kids up and how it makes her smile. With the way my wife’s work schedule has been this year, I have picked the kids up from daycare a couple of times and experienced being a good cop for once.
Smiling is a superpower
There really isn’t anything better than going to pick up our 15-month-old daughter from daycare and having her scream “Dada!” at the top of her lungs and run to you with a big smile on her face. Adelaide gets so excited when either my wife or I pick her up. Her infectious smile makes everyone around her happy. Our son Jude has the same ability. It’s their superpower; you can go from a gloomy mood to cheery in seconds after being around their smiles.
The benefits of a smile
About 5 years ago, I came across the book “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz. In the book, the author talks about “Smiling Big.” He talks about how most people have heard that a smile is “excellent medicine for confidence deficiency.”
The author goes on to tell a story about how a smile can erase opposition of others instantly. Schwartz was sitting at an intersection one day waiting for the light to turn green. All of a sudden, the car behind him let off the brake too soon and rear-ended him. Schwartz was ready to give the driver a verbal lashing, but before he got the chance, the driver got out of his car, approached him, smiled, and said, “Friend, I really didn’t mean to do that.” The man’s smile along with his sincere apology changed Schwartz’s heart, and instead of yelling, Schwartz said, “That’s okay. Happens all the time.”
There are many times when I have not smiled, especially after I was rear-ended a few years ago myself. I was far from smiling, and the person who hit me was far from the person Schwartz describes in his book. Positive energy – like negative energy – is contagious.
One instance where a smile did change my outlook was when my son used postage stamps as “stickers”. Our stamps were out on the table because I had just paid a bill and forgot to file them away. In the meantime, my son spotted the stamps and thought they were his stickers. He thought it would be funny to cover his sunglasses in “stickers.” When he was done, he showed Anna and me what he had done. I was furious to say the least and just as I was getting ready to discipline him, he smiled at us and said, “Look at the funny glasses” with a BIG smile on his face. He melts my heart, and he knows it. I calmly told him that those were postage stamps, not stickers, and they are only to be used by Mommy and Daddy for mailing letters. If you are curious, I was able to save all but two stamps.
Peace begins with a smile
St. Teresa of Calcutta said, “Peace begins with a smile. Smile five times a day at someone you really don’t want to smile at; do it for peace”. You might be thinking that she is referring to world peace; I think she is. However, peace begins in our own home. Our kids are always watching our every move. Modeling a positive attitude and wearing a smile around the house can spread peace within your home. My son must have known about this quote from St. Teresa because his smile turned a potentially frustrating moment for me into one of laughter and forgiveness.
When has a smile changed your perspective? It’d be great to hear about your experiences in the comments below.