Who doesn’t love a cheerful baby smiling at you from across a restaurant? Who doesn’t love a cheerful baby smiling, well, ever? Cheerful babies are the best. They are arguably the happiest thing in this whole messed-up world. I mean, my own kid has brought me more joy than I could have ever imagined experiencing. One of my favorite things about him is how thoughtful he is. I mean, he's so thoughtful that people mistake him for a serious kid, when really he’s just taking it all in, and say things to me that, well, they just shouldn't, as a result.
I, personally, love how contemplative and reflective my son is. I can see the wheels turning (toy tractor wheels, obviously) and adore watching his face light up as he begins to understand a specific problem or toy or concept. As his mom, I see all the awesome sides to his personality; I see what brings him joy and what makes him laugh; I see how genuine he is when he smiles or reaches out for a hug. All of those moments, when he acts like the cheerful baby everyone loves to highlight, are byproducts of his constant introspection.
Sadly, strangers don't see or realize that; they just see a wide-eyed kid looking around with a semi-serious look on his face, so they feel compelled to comment. In fact, I’ve noticed a few common themes in how people react to seeing a curious kid who doesn’t smile at the drop of a hat (or a binky), reflected in what people tend to say to parents with "serious" kids in general. Here are just a few and, you know, next time you see a kid looking stern and contemplative, maybe just don't say the following:
"He's So Serious"
Well, I mean, you would probably keep your game face on if a stranger was assessing you without ever actually speaking a work to you. I don't really blame him.
"Does He Ever Smile?"
Um, of course he does. He smiles a ton, actually. Just not on command and not when he's around strangers (sometimes) and not when he's in a new place trying to figure things out (most of the time) and, you know, just not always.
"He Doesn't Want To Smile, Does He?"
No need to provide commentary on the current situation for the adults in the vicinity.
"He's Probably Like, 'Who is This Weird Person Making Crazy Faces At Me?'"
To be honest, I'm kinda proud of how he doesn't just hand out his giggles to everyone who attempts to elicit them. He's discerning, like a sommelier or a fancy film critic or those old guys in the Muppets.
"He Looks Smart"
What does that mean, exactly? How does someone "look smart?" I have never understood that phrase, as a person's intelligence is definitely not something you can discern on looks alone (and, you know, you shouldn't). Maybe don't judge people based on their appearance and/or how quick they're willing to throw you a smile?
"He's Going To Be A Professor"
Maybe, if he has time after he gets back from all his space missions and when he completes all those Academy Award-winning documentaries that will change our world for the better.
"Does He Ever Blink?"
Okay, granted, the person who actually said this was a cute little kid so it made me laugh more than anything else. But still, it's not exactly polite.
"My Kid Was Like That, And Now She Never Stops Talking"
Oh okay, that's cool. I'm actually not looking for reassurance in anyway because I think my son's tendency to be thoughtful is awesome, but it's nice to know your kid is a chatterbox.
"Is He Shy?"
Confession: sometimes I just say that he is because it's easier than engaging with someone about my son's personality. His personality is still being explored and formed and expressed, so maybe he actually will keep these quiet tendencies or maybe he'll totally come out of his shell.