The Dawn of the Fake Smile

Shortly after Declan turned one, I set up a gmail account for him and began sending him emails, documenting little moments in his life. I recommend this approach — it’s a quick and easy way to store memories, given the ease of forwarding photos and thoughts from a cell phone. I have been going through the old files and am posting a few here for posterity:

August 19, 2008

Dear Declan —

Sometime in the summer of 2008 you began squinting and drawing your upper lip up like a retractable curtain when someone says “Smile!” This is a fascinating thing for a parent to watch — the incremental process of a little human (that would be you) becoming socially aware. Which is to say, becoming less sincere. Developing an intent, however clumsy and well intentioned, to deceive.

I think your lousy half smile is adorable. It’s the perfect response to an unreasonable request — that you smile on command. Smiling, is after all, a spontaneous expression of joy. It’s like someone, with a large camera lense for a nose, saying, “on your mark, get set, experience joy.” You may be correctly inferring right now that I am not very good at it either. I don’t blame you.

As a comrade in lousy fake smiling, i chose to interpret it as a sign of sincerity — it’s failed insincerity, after all. I like to think that a certain amount of social ineptitude — in your case, anyway, Declan — is a sign of good character. Here’s a real one:

love, Dad

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