Jan 10, 2013

If You Chance to Meet a Frown - Find a Two-Year-Old

by Kari Diane Pike

Two-year-olds inspire me. I have the privilege of living with a two-year-old right now. Her name is Gwendolyn. She loves pretties in her hair, "boobies" (blueberries), babies, hanging upside down and crawling in and out of the doggie door. She also shares her "Gamma's" love for spinach/bacon/green chili omelettes and of course, chocolate.

Gwen has entered that fascinating stage generally referred to as "the terrible two's." But I love it. I admit that I didn't appreciate it so much when my own children (Gwen's father included) went through their neural "housecleaning" so to speak, but back then, I didn't understand that's what was happening. It wasn't until years later that I took a class on brain development and learned how, at about age 2, the brain sweeps away underused neural pathways and builds up the reinforced ones (super simplified explanation). This process lasts for a few months to a year or so and begins again during puberty -- lasting clear up into the mid-to-late twenties. Millions upon millions of brain cells die during this process. If this housecleaning didn't happen, our brains would become so overwhelmed, they would self-destruct (another over simplified explanation)!

Gwen was uber cranky the other day so I scooped her up in my arms and, with my most serious look, started singing, "If you chance to meet a frown, do not let it stay. Quickly turn it upside down and smile that frown away." When I smiled during the appropriate part of the song, I was startled by how much effort it took to make that smile. I obviously had not been using my smile muscles nearly enough. That thought really bothered me and caused me a great deal of pondering and analyzing.

For the next several days, I focused on remembering to smile. I used to have a yoga instructor who would end our practice by having us stretch our arms above our heads, look up, and smile. She would say, "And don't let that be the only smile of your day." Now I've added smiling to my little list of stretches I do every morning  before I get out of bed.

While reading in The Book of Mormon - Another Testament of Jesus Christ,  I came to Mosiah 15:30:  "Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem; for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.The Lord hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the asalvation of our God"

I love that: "Break forth into joy" and "sing together "! I have every reason to smile and rejoice because there is no trial or challenge so great that the Savior can't heal and comfort me. I can do hard things through Jesus Christ.

Gwen is in the room with me right now. She climbs on and off my lap, torments the cat, asks for bites of whatever I am snacking on, and mimics every word I speak. When she looked up into my eyes a few moments ago, I made it a point to smile my best smile at her. Her blue eyes lit up and her darling dimples appeared on either side of her beloved Binky. Then Gwen squealed and threw her arms around my neck.

I think I'm going to be doing a lot more smiling from now on.

What makes you smile?



  1. A few things that make me smile: Grandchildren, all 16 of them. Happily married grown children (okay the youngest daughter is still available, but she's living with us for now, and that makes me smile), sunshine, rain, chocolate, avocados, lobster, tree ripened fruit, ...

  2. I just spent the last weekend with my two year old great niece and she's wonderful and hectic and delightful. I'm with you...two year olds rock!

  3. Loved your post, Kari. Thanks for the biology lesson, too. I would like to hear the not-so-simple form :)

  4. I always love your blogs. I feel like I am listening to a wise friend. Thanks for sharing this!


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