It’s Monday morning. I’m just thinking about moving my sleepy body from my safe cocoon, when Dante stomps in. There is a scowl on his face and a grump in the thud of his footstep. He is shouting and barking about some injustice that has befallen him. Stomp, shout, bark, crash. How can you help your children to not be so grumpy? To find their happy place? Their smile?
I can image that it’s tough being a middle child. We all get grumpy from time to time. I know that (especially since becoming a parent) I find it difficult to control my emotions. And I’m all big and grown up, at least on the outside.
Being only 5 and having to control your emotions, having to constantly battle your inferior skills against your older brother who can run faster, read quicker, do everything better must be difficult.
Difficult on a daily basis.
I see my beautiful five year old struggling. He is generous and kind spirited with a wickedly cheeky smile. I want to see him smile more. I don’t want to see that sour, grumpy face that he has the habit of putting on.
So I tell him. I tell him that I love his smile, that I want to see more of it. That his smile makes me happy.
“I don’t always let them out” he admits.
Smiles Can’t be Sold
“Do you know the story of Cresta Bear and the smile?” I ask him.
My dad used to read it to me at bedtime, when I was little.
Cresta Bear is a big white polar bear who lives in the North Pole. One day he decides that he’s going to sell his smile to earn a few bucks.
He goes to the walrus and asks him if he wants a smile for 2p. The walrus agrees and gives Cresta 2p in return for a smile.
Cresta moves on to the penguin. The penguin also agrees and gives Cresta 2p in return for a smile.
He sells his smile to lots of animals until he gets to the wise parrot.
The parrot tells him that he can’t sell smiles and he needs to go and return all the 2ps.
Reluctantly, Cresta gives the 2p back to the walrus. And guess what? The walrus smiles.
He gives the 2p back to the penguin and guess what? The penguin smiles too.
He does the same with all the animals. He returns every 2p and in return he gets a smile from every animal.
Cresta ends up a happy bear with lots of smiles and empty pockets.
You see, I explain. Smiles are things that bring happiness to other people and normally when you smile at someone, they smile back.
Remind your Children to Smile
Now I tell him on a daily basis that I want to see his special smile. When I see him sitting and playing, or eating dinner, I make a point of telling him that I want to see his beautiful smile.
It’s true, I do want to see his smile.
His smile is beautiful and it makes me happy.
And when he’s getting grumpy, I remind him that I want to see that beautiful smile.
His beautiful cheeky smile.
The corners of his lips curl upwards, his rosy cheeks form little cushions and his eyes sparkle.
Today it’s Tuesday morning. Stomp, bang, crash. “Come here Cresta” I say “I love you!”. He falters, unsure whether to smile or not. His eyes light up and he dives on top of me, his grump totally forgotten.