A tiny ripple creased the smooth skin on the brow of little Max. He had just completed 18 weeks of life and things were happening fast. He was no longer always with Mom or Dad. He did not quite know what to think or, for that matter, did he know how to think, for he had no word concepts. He could not form such a thought as: "Don't you dare pinch my cheeks with your nasty red claw nails," or "Ahhh, that feels so cozy I think I will just relax and take a nap."
And so the ripples flitted across his brow, quivered his chin, squinched up his eyes and erupted into howls in his very own language -- sometimes as hard for adults to decipher as it was for baby Max to interpret their looks, their fawning love and their rapt amazement at his tiny perfect toes or their own creased brows when his distress was relieved by a burp or a gassy poof from his diaper.
One thing Max knew, though -- no doubt about it -- with or without word concepts, was that a smile was a good thing, a friendly gesture that was meant to entertain and elicit a response. And so he opened his tiny mouth and slowly curved his miniature lips into a responding smile. A smile begat a smile and a relationship was born.
Words would come in due time. Max in his newborn wisdom wished (though he did not yet know what a "wish" was) that this ... this smile ... would last forever. That too would come in due time, with those who love and cherish Max moving heaven and earth to keep those smiles -- those relationships -- intact. Words are not always needed; feelings trump words and Max’s world, not yet complicated by the vagaries of spoken language, knew only feelings ... warm blankets, a secure, milky embrace, a new texture, new sounds and sights designed to amuse and teach but sometimes scary. Yet the smiles rained on him and delighted his accumulating days.
If only he could tell you how important a smile is.