Monday, August 01, 2005

Happy Days

There's just something about a baby's smile. And there's something extra special about Ellie's smile! (Ok, there's maybe a little bias here)

Ellie has been an easy and friendly baby all along, but for the past couple of weeks her smiles have made her even more arresting. She smiles at Mummy. She smiles at Daddy. She smiles at friends, old and new alike. Once she locks eyes with you, a smile creeps over her face that is unstoppably contagious. I sometimes have an image of her smile appear in my mind as I am falling asleep and wake myself up with my giggles. Oh smitten heart!

My friend Jim writes this about baby smiles, from his own first-hand experience:

The military has a highly evolved technique of taking raw recruits and turning them into soldiers in short order, through what is normally called boot camp. A drill sergeant once explained to me that the purpose of all the screaming, insults, sleep deprivation and incessant and irrational demands is first and foremost to break down the recruit's sense of self and identity. After several weeks, when that individuality and identity is fragile, the drill sergeant's job is then to mete out small rewards and affirmation, reconstructing the recruit's sense of self around the camaraderie of the unit and the new identity of "soldier."

"Screaming, sleep deprivation, incessant and irrational demands...," any of that sound familiar? God's little drill sergeant. Think about how desperately you look for those first smiles. Cults use these techniques as well.

And it is truly wonderful.

I'm not sure I'd liken Ellie too much to a drill sergeant, but she somehow knows how to get her way — sometimes with a cry, sometimes with a quivering chin, and usually with a smile.