Babies. Those little humans are cute, right? That cuteness of babies is like a super power. It does odd things to us bigger humans, especially when the baby isn't ours. Just a simple smile on one of their little faces completely disarms us, and in that moment faced with the sheer power of that infant smile, we can react in a number of ways. Which one of these people are you?
The baby's smile triggers a sudden surge of excitement within you. Out of all the people in the world, the baby selected you--YOU!--to smile at. You are the chosen one. It is your duty to respond with the requisite level of joy to reward the child and show him that he has chosen wisely. It is your destiny! So naturally, you respond with the hugest grin you can muster! You wave! You coo. You baby talk. You give the performance of a lifetime until the parents laugh or the baby looks away.
The baby's smile leaves you instantly confused. Was it looking at you? Does it have gas? Did it think of something humorous that is completely unrelated to you? Do babies even do that? What do babies think is funny? The questions that the smile unleashes leave you paralysed. Eventually, you realise you should respond. But how? In the end, you manage a stiff wave and a nervous smile. You are exhausted and need a nap post haste.
The baby's smile is cute, but you are a paragon of strength. Cuteness should have no effect on you. You mustn't let on that you find the baby's smile to be appealing. No. If word gets out, you'll be ruined. RUINED! After a moment's debate, you give the baby a nod. A single one. "Hey, Kid." You say the word casually. You nod to the parents. Maybe you say "Cute baby." But if you do, you say it with no emotion at all. Reputation saved, tough guy.
The baby's smile is not something that you want to deal with. You were just going about your day, trying to get things done. You didn't sign up for a baby's smile. This isn't a part of the plan. You are not obligated to indulge this child in this tangled game it's playing! Just pretend you don't see it and go on your way. If the child makes a noise, feign deafness in one ear. Should work.
The baby's smile fills you with self-consciousness. Why is it smiling at you? Is there something wrong with you? Are you funny looking like a clown? Does your nose remind it of big bird? Are you looking scruffy like a teddy bear? You can't let the baby know you're worried about what it thinks. It's a baby! It should have no power over you. So you laugh. You laugh a little too much. Things get awkward. The baby even senses it.
There's really no wrong way to respond to a baby's smile. Well, except perhaps to run away, fleeing in terror, screaming "It's alive! It's alive!" Hopefully, you're not that guy. Otherwise, you have bigger problems than dealing with a baby's smile to contend with.
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