Sometimes, You Just Smile

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Sometimes, You Just Smile
By: Katheryn S. |  Date:  Sunday, June 28, 1998
When you are a single mother raising three children that were all born in a four year span, the most important shield against trouble is a strong, flexible smile. If it is 9:00 pm and you think all munchkins are asleep, but you hear a gurgling noise and a little voice, "Mommy, I think Liam flushed my Barney down the toilet", you put your 'grit your teeth smile' on and grab some rags. When your mother tells you that your three adorable offspring are the smartest she has ever read to, you beam - without thinking your 'all-teeth smile' shines.

When my middle son, Christian, was seven years old, I learned my Radio Flyer smile. One Saturday, I was cleaning windows and doing my version of home karokee, when the doorbell rang. As I marched down the stairs, not happy with whoever interrupted my ABBA jam, I saw the crabby mother of two from across the street. We had not spoken more than three times since I moved into our home because she insisted on criticizing everything from my boys' bug collecting to my daughter's propensity to wear a Trex costume in off Halloween season. I knew what was coming, and it was not going to be pleasant.

"Do you know what Christian is doing?" she didn't even pretend to be polite. I answered honestly, "Not really, he is out playing with his brother I think." We lived at the end of a circle drive in a very small subdivision, I was certain the most trouble they could get into was picking the wrong neighbor's dandelions and blowing them all over. "Well, he has his wagon and is CHARGING other kids $0.25 for a ride around the block! And he is charging an additional $0.25 for pretzels or a drink from his water bottle during the ride!" the neighbor lady's voice was raising and lowering as if she were telling me that my seven year old was threatening kids with a BB gun - not playing with his wagon.

And then it happened, the Radio Flyer smile, I couldn't help myself - I was proud that my grade school son had some entrepreneurial spirit, I was not happy that the neighbor failed to agree and I was confused on how to explain to my son that it may not have been appropriate to conduct business transactions with five to eight year-olds. The smile just wouldn't go away - mostly because I was so proud, yet so confused, but as I explained to my son the neighbor's complaints, I was still smiling, and so was he. Christian continued to be quite the entrepreneur and when the school called, or another parent, I always put my Radio Flyer smile on and remembered how it all started.

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