I think every family with more than one off-spring has it—you know, The Look. It’s hard to describe as every family has their own version. I know my family has it. The look ranges in various degrees. The mildest is like a warning and the strongest is a “time out.”
I remember growing up as the middle child—that’s having a Big Brother and a Little Sister. Being in the middle sucks big-time. You’re either ranked as “too young” for the privileges of later bedtimes and curfews like Big Brother or “old enough to know better” for not stopping Little Sister from doing something she shouldn’t have. And, in the midst of this confusing age-thing, earning the parental look.
Reflecting back, I think we all got the look at various times during our childhood. During our playful ruckus and noisy sibling squabbles, one or the other parent would stand in the room, quietly say our names and give that look. It always worked–like a switch had suddenly turned down the noise. Note, I said “turned down” and not “turned off.”
The look worked especially well in a room full of company. At family dinners, if the pushing/shoving/giggling became too much at the table, one of the parents would look over and give the family you-know-what. I noticed that my aunts and uncles also did this with my cousins. We would all stop except for the feet kicking under the table.
I was thinking about the family look when my cousin glanced over at his two children, noisily wrestling each other over the mini-racing cars in the toybox. He gave his sons the look without uttering a word. The noise level dropped. My sister is a natural teacher and the look was an easy one for her. It must be passed along in the DNA because the kids learn the meaning of a parental look before they can talk.
I never knew I had this ability to give the look until my little granddaughter looked up from happily bashing her wooden blocks on the kitchen floor. For three nano-seconds she stopped her happy squeals, then threw me a big smile and a “luff you PoPo” before resuming her noisy activity. I think I need to practice this look some more, but not right now. . . .