For some reason, my kids have always seemed to have a special relationship with crossing guards. (For example, see https://frootloopsblog.wordpress.com/why-froot-loops/). On the days that we drive to school, we see our friend Sharon (the crossing guard in the Froot Loops story). Lately, we’ve been walking, and we see our friend Joan who presides over the intersection on our pedestrian path.
Before I start this story, there is one thing you should know about G. That is, he has the most charming, delicious smile on the planet. I might be a little bit biased… but not much. If he looks right at you and grins, I promise you will absolutely melt. Sometimes, I play games with him just to get him giggling. The games are every bit as much for my enjoyment as they are for his. As for the rest of the people in my family, we all have nice smiles as well… but there is just something transcendent about G’s smile that’s hard to describe.
So, back to the story. It’s a fairly long walk from our house to school. The last block of the walk is slightly uphill, ending in a very busy intersection right before the school building. When we arrive at the intersection, it is usually bustling with pre-drop-off commotion. Crowds of parents and children converge at the corner and wait for Joan’s signal to cross.
Often in crowds, G will get quiet. His eyes widen, he takes in everything around him… but he doesn’t talk much. Often, when it’s our turn to cross that crowded intersection, G will wordlessly grasp my hand and do his happy little skip-hop across the street.
I never thought much of it… but I guess it made an impression. A few weeks into the school year, Joan began referring to G as “Smiley”. I guess something about his wordless, bouncy, smiling presence caught her attention. Every day, as we approach the intersection, Joan seeks him out of the throng. “Hi, Smiley!” She calls to him. “How’s it going, Smiley?” He rarely responds verbally, but he usually rewards her with an ear-to-ear grin.
At least, that’s how I interpreted our daily interaction. However, it seems I’m not the only one with an interpretation. One day last week, we were in mid-cross. Joan called out to us as we passed, “Hi, Smiley! How’re you doin’, Smiley?” As usual, G smiled up at her. But then, S called back, “I’m doin’ good!”
When we reached the opposite side, I asked S, “Wait a second. Who is Smiley?”
S looked at me as if I had two heads. She planted her fists on her hips and replied, “Well, I’m Smiley, of course.” Her tone implied that she found her answer to be perfectly obvious.
While I don’t enjoy being looked at as if I’m dense, I did enjoy the moment. It was so perfectly S. In my daughter’s world, she loves everyone and everyone loves her. If the crossing guard is calling out “Hi, Smiley!” then it must be that she is Smiley. I absolutely love the confidence and self-assurance.
I almost let the moment go… but a question popped into my mind. S thinks Smiley is her. I think Smiley is G. But what about G? Does he have an opinion about this?
I let S walk ahead, then I leaned over so I was eye-level to G. I asked him, “Did you hear the crossing guard say ‘Hi Smiley’?” G looked at me wide-eyed and nodded. “Okay,” I continued. “I have a question. Who was she talking about? Who do you think is Smiley?”
Without missing a beat, G grinned up at me and poked at my chest. “You are,” he proclaimed emphatically. “You are Smiley!”
“Me?” I asked him. “Why am I Smiley?”
“You are Smiley,” he replied, “Because you are beautiful.”
It doesn’t get much better than that.